Australian PM reshuffles Cabinet

Updated on Jan 24, 2006 11:53 AM IST

However, PM Howard left key ministers like Treasurer P Costello and Foreign Minister A Downer in their posts.

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None | ByAssociated Press, Canberra

Prime Minister John Howard reshuffled his fourth-term Cabinet on Tuesday.

The PM promoted Education Minister Brendan Nelson to Defence Minister following the resignation of Robert Hill last week.

Howard unveiled several changes, but left his key ministers — Treasurer Peter Costello, Foreign Minister Alexander Downer and Health Minister Tony Abbott in their posts.

"It preserves in their respective places outstanding senior ministers such as Peter Costello, Alexander Downer and Tony Abbott," Howard said.

The reshuffle was sparked by Hill's resignation last week. He is expected to become Australia's next ambassador to the United Nations.

And on Sunday, Family and Community Services Minister Kay Patterson, 61, announced she also was resigning as she did not plan to stand for re-election at the next election, which is due in 2007.

Analysts have said that Howard's thorough shake up of the Cabinet is an indication that he plans to remain prime minister until at least the next election, quashing the leadership aspirations of his longtime heir apparent, Treasurer Peter Costello.

Howard will celebrate his 10th anniversary as prime minister in March and his 67th birthday in July.

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