Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard is all set to announce her new team on Monday while support for Labour government and Ms. Gillard as Prime Minster fell by four per cent in a latest poll.
According to ‘the Australian’, Ms. Gillard had on Sunday discussed key portfolio positions in a series of telephone calls with senior ministers.
The reshuffle was prompted after Small Business Minister Nick Sherry informed about his resignation from his role for personal reasons which the report said has lead to Ms. Gillard canvassing a wider revamp of the frontbench.
Quoting senior sources on Sunday night, the report said there were a “limited number of changes” but that some were significant.
It said that Ms. Gillard has decided on a small expansion of cabinet to allow an injection of “new young blood“.
It is being speculated that Human Services Minister Tanya Plibersek is set for promotion but Innovation Minister Kim Carr is tipped to be dumped.
The ministerial revamp will align key portfolios to Ms. Gillard’s policy priorities for the coming year as she moves to put her stamp on the ministry.
A new economic role is likely to be created to manage challenges being forced on the economy by the mining boom as well as skills development and industry policy.
There is also likely to be an expanded social policy portfolio as the government eyes reforms such as proposals for a national disability insurance scheme.
While Senate leader Chris Evans will remain in cabinet and retain his leadership role, Immigration Minister Chris Bowen will stay on in his role, continuing to push for the government’s Malaysia asylum-seeker plan.
Deputy Prime Minister Wayne Swan will retain Treasury.
Kevin Rudd, who has been the subject of leadership speculation and reports of tensions with Gillard, will retain the Foreign Affairs portfolio.
Meanwhile, according to latest Age-Nielsen poll, Ms. Gillard and her government took a hit as she disclosed about reshuffle.
The Coalition has boosted its two-party lead over Labour by two points to 57-43 per cent and Tony Abbott has pulled ahead again as preferred prime minister, now leading Gillard 46-42 per cent.
Gillard’s approval is down 4 points to 35 per cent, Labour’s primary vote has fallen a point to 29 per cent while the Coalition vote is up 4 points to 49 per cent.
The poll also shows the Prime Minister out of sync with public opinion on uranium sales to India, which are backed by fewer than a third of Australians.
In the poll of 1,400 people, Ms. Gillard’s disapproval rating rose one point to 58 per cent, while opposition leader Tony Abbott’s disapproval fell one point to 53 per cent.
His approval was steady at 41 per cent.
Ms. Gillard has a net approval of minus 23 per cent, down 5 points, while Abbott’s net approval is minus 12 per cent, up one point.
Last month Ms. Gillard was equal with Mr. Abbott as preferred Prime Minister after lagging in other polls.
The Greens have slumped in the poll, with their vote down 3 points to 11 per cent.
The poll also showed that Gillard’s major win at the ALP national conference -- for uranium sales to India -- is supported by only 32 per cent of voters, with 57 per cent opposed.
On another major conference policy issue, gay marriage was backed by 57 per cent of poll respondents -- down 5 points since November.