New Australian Cabinet sworn in ahead of elections

Last Updated: Mon, Feb 04, 2013 01:45 hrs

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard swore in her new Cabinet on Monday, as two major opinion polls showed her government faced likely defeat at elections in September.

The reshuffle was forced by the surprise resignations of two senior government ministers at the weekend. Attorney General Nicola Roxon and Senate Leader Chris Evans cited personal reasons for their decisions to quit politics.

Nine ministers were sworn in, three for the first time, at a ceremony in the national capital Canberra on Monday ahead of Parliament sitting for the first time this year on Tuesday.

Gillard has said she expects to make no further changes to her ministers before elections are held on Sept. 14.

The first major opinion polls published since Gillard last week named the election date showed opposition leader Tony Abbott's conservative coalition clearly ahead of the ruling center-left Labor Party.

A poll by Sydney-based market researcher Newspoll published in The Australian newspaper on Monday found support for Labor was trailing the coalition 44 percent to 56 percent. A Newspoll survey in mid-January gave the coalition a shorter lead, 51 percent to 49 percent.

A poll by Sydney-based Galaxy Research published in News Corp. newspapers Monday found the coalition was leading Labor 54 percent to 46 percent.

Both polls were based on national random telephone surveys at the weekend and had the same 3 percentage point margin of error. Newspoll's sample was 1,163 voters. The Galaxy sample was 1,015.

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