New Australian minister sacks diplomat… before she takes office


World leaders beware. Australia’s Foreign Minister-elect, Julie Bishop is a formidable woman and known for her “death stare”.

Not yet sworn in, she has already made waves by revoking a plum diplomatic posting for a Labor Party insider. Steve Bracks, a former Victorian state premier, was due to start work this month as Australia’s consul-general in New York. Then came the phone call from Ms Bishop this week, informing him he was sacked. Appointed by the former Labor Prime Minister Julia Gillard in May, Mr Bracks had left a job to take up the post.

Ms Bishop claimed Labor should have consulted the conservative opposition about the appointment, because an election date had been set and the government was therefore in “caretaker mode”. Labor MPs called her action “petty and vindictive”.

Meanwhile, Kevin Rudd, who resigned as Labor leader after losing last Saturday’s election, is facing growing calls to quit politics. Craig Emerson, a former minister, told The Australian: “He will destabilise the new opposition leader, and that’s why… he must leave parliament.”