Australian PM Not Considering Stepping Down

Posted September 2nd, 2011 at 12:05 am (UTC-5)
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Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard says she is not stepping down and will not reshuffle her cabinet, despite media reports that some in her government are questioning her future.

Ms. Gillard told Australian radio on Friday that she is “not going anywhere,” saying she is the best person to lead the nation.

Her comments came after several newspapers quoted unnamed government officials as saying the prime minister has “lost her authority” following an Australian court's ruling against her plan to send asylum seekers to Malaysia.

Several senior government leaders and lawmakers expressed their support Friday for the prime minister, including Trade Minister Craig Emerson, who said Ms. Gillard is a “great and strong leader.”

Ms. Gillard's government suffered a serious political setback on Wednesday, when a High Court blocked Australia's plan to send hundreds of asylum seekers to Malaysia.

The Australian government struck a deal last month to accept 4,000 asylum seekers currently awaiting resettlement in Malaysia, while Malaysia would hold 800 undocumented asylum seekers from Australia while their refugee claims are processed.

The court's decision now leaves the government to decide what to do with more than 330 asylum seekers who have already been selected for transfer to Malaysia.

The prime minister and her Australian Labor Party are already suffering from record low approval ratings.