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Socceroos out to finish the job

After a near-flawless World Cup qualification campaign spanning almost 18 months, Socceroos coach Pim Verbeek says his side is primed to “finish the job” against Qatar.

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Australia need only a point from the match at the Al Sadd Club in Doha to become the first team, aside from hosts South Africa, to book their spot at next year’s finals.

With home matches still to play against Bahrain and Japan this month, the Socceroos are under no immediate pressure to seal second consecutive finals appearances for the first time.

But Verbeek said the intensity and commitment of his players at their training camp in Dubai this week showed just how badly they wanted to book their tickets to South Africa.

“You can see in training, they are very committed to finishing it off,” Verbeek said.

“That’s why they’re here and they’re not having holidays,” said the Socceroos coach.

“They want to go the World Cup and want to do everything to qualify for the World Cup as soon as possible.”

Qualification could not have gone much better for the Socceroos in their first campaign since switching to the Asian Football Confederation.

In the final stage of qualifying, they have dropped only two points, a 0-0 draw against powerhouse Japan in Yokohama and are yet to concede a goal in five matches.

Critics come out

However, they have still earned the ire of some critics, who claim they have played unattractive football.

One of the main criticisms aimed at Verbeek has been his reluctance to use more than one recognised striker away from home but that has not deterred the Dutchman in his planning for Qatar.

Striker Josh Kennedy will lead the line alone with Scott McDonald set to start on the bench, but the side will be far from short on firepower.

Tim Cahill is expected to play, despite speculation he would be rested, alongside Harry Kewell and Mark Bresciano in a three-man attacking midfield.

Vince Grella will make his international return to partner Carl Valeri in a holding role with Jason Culina expected to fill in for the suspended Luke Wilkshire at right back.

Chris Coyne will partner Lucas Neill in central defensive with Scott Chipperfield likely to shake off an ankle problem to slot in at left back.

Cahill is battling a hip injury suffered in Saturday’s FA Cup final but and will be assessed closer to match time.

“He’s very eager to play and to be with us but we have to wait and find out how he is,” Verbeek said.

Qatar will field an inexperienced line-up, missing up to five regulars, but Verbeek was wary of his desperate opponents, who need to beat Australia, then Japan, to have any chance of qualification.

Germany not pressed for Gitmo commitment

US President Barack Obama said he had neither asked for nor received any hard commitments from Germany on taking Guantanamo Bay detainees, after talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

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“Chancellor Merkel has been very open to discussions with us. We have not asked her for hard commitments and she has not given us any hard commitments,” Obama said.

US President Barack Obama met German Chancellor Angela Merkel in the heart of Dresden, where Allied bombing in the final months of World War II flattened the city and killed an estimated 35,000 people.

After policy talks and a news conference Obama and Merkel were due to travel to Buchenwald, the former Nazi concentration camp where more than 56,000 prisoners perished.

After paying a visit to wounded US troops in Landstuhl medical centre, the US president was due to wrap up his trip in France at the 65th anniversary commemorations of the D-Day landings in Normandy on Saturday.

Visit follows landmark Muslim address

Obama flew in late Thursday from Cairo after a landmark address to the Muslim world vowing to forge a “new beginning” for Islam and America and laid out a new blueprint for US Middle East policy.

International leaders hailed Obama’s speech on ties with the Muslim world as opening a “new page” but arch foes called for Washington to deliver action rather than words.

Obama said the United States had created the space and the atmosphere to restart Middle East peace talks following his landmark speech to the Muslim world.

After talks with Chancellor Angela Merkel in Germany, Obama also called on the key players in the region to make tough decisions, warning the United States could not make peace on its own.

French sub joins search for jet

France sent a nuclear sub to assist in the hunt for black boxes lost when an Air France jet carrying 228 people plunged into the Atlantic, as Airbus warned pilots about a possible cause of the tragedy.

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The notice, reminding air crews worldwide what to do when speed indicators give conflicting readouts, was sent to pilots of all Airbus airliners and not just of the A330, the model that crashed on Monday, a spokesman said.

The alert came as French air safety investigators said automatic messages broadcast by the Rio to Paris flight just before it plunged into the Atlantic on Monday had shown the plane’s systems were giving false readings.

“Airbus overnight sent a reminder to all the companies using its planes on the procedures to follow in the case of inconsistency in speeds measured,” a spokesman for the French-based manufacturer told AFP.

With AF 477’s black box flight recorders still missing, investigators are focusing on signals sent before the jet went down as it flew through a storm en route from Rio de Janeiro to Paris.

Conflicting data from speed sensors

The plane has several devices that measure speed but the data sent by them differed, said a spokeswoman from the Office of Inquiries and Analysis (BEA), France’s air accident investigation authority.

According to David Learmont, editor in chief of Flight International, the decision to issue the warning does not mean that investigators know what happened, but that they have seen similar situations in the past.

“What Airbus is saying is, ‘Whatever happened to these pilots, they didn’t manage to handle it. We don’t know everything that they faced but we know a little bit about the nature of the situation they faced’,” he told AFP.

“So all they’ve done is that they’ve gone back to the airlines and the pilots and said: have a quick look at this, because it might save your life.”

Airbus urged all the pilots to refer to a warning it already issued in July 2001 outlining what to do “in the event of erroneous airspeed in flight or at takeoff or if the airspeed indication is lost”.

Such a situation could be caused, the warning stated, if detection equipment known as “radomes” or “pitots” are damaged or obscured in flight.

Pilots are told to turn off the autopilot, maintain flaps in position, check that speedbrakes and landing gear are retracted, apply thrust and adjust the pitch of the aircraft to maintain the right speed while avoiding a stall.

“The aeroplane will reject the autopilot and you have to fly it manually and you have to make decisions about which information your systems are giving you is correct and which is not correct,” Learmont said.

Terrorism not ruled out

French Defence Minister Herve Morin told reporters in Paris he has not ruled out an terrorist attack on the plane, although he has not heard of any threats or claims of responsibility being made.

“I’ve never ruled out terrorism,” he said. “There’s no element or evidence trail that would allow us to corroborate that, but the inquiry that is underway has never ruled that out.”

Morin also said that a French navy nuclear-powered hunter-killer submarine has been sent to the area, where salvage crews are racing to find the wreckage and bodies of passengers in the Atlantic.

“Time is against us,” admitted French transport minister Dominique Bussereau. “We must do everything we can to find the flight recorders and certainly enlarge the search zone.”

Several Brazilian navy vessels and French and Brazilian planes are scouring waters midway between Brazil and Africa for wreckage, including a seat and what appeared to be a big chunk of fuselage, sighted by air force jets.

Speculation over what caused the accident has ranged from terrorism, to turbulence, to pilot error or a combination of factors.

No mayday call was received, just a series of automatic data transmissions signalling the plane’s systems were shutting down one by one, after which it presumably broke up or went into a fatal dive.

Search continues

Brazil’s air force has invited Brazilian relatives to its centre of operations in the northeastern city of Recife to observe developments.

Some are to go to Fernando de Noronha, a Brazilian archipelago 400km into the Atlantic that serves as a base for the search and initial collection point for any debris or bodies that might be recovered.

“We want to see how the search operations are going, how the searches are being carried out. It’s important for us to see that,” said one of them, Nelson Farias, whose son was on the flight.

Recife, on the Brazilian mainland, has prepared a morgue and debris inspection area for anything found.

Brown stands strong

A defiant Gordon Brown vowed to tough it out as Britain’s prime minister after Cabinet members quit in bitter circumstances and his governing Labour Party suffered electoral meltdown.

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“I will not waver, I will not walk away… I will get on with the job,”

Brown told a news conference after announcing a swift but limited cabinet reshuffle in a bid to stem the haemorrhaging of authority in his position.

Spate of resignations

The shake-up, originally expected next week, was brought forward after four Cabinet ministers quit within 24 hours — taking the total number of ministerial resignations in the past week to 10.

James Purnell delivered a withering call for Brown to stand down or lead Labour to disaster at the next general election as he quit as work and pensions secretary.

The resignations of defence secretary John Hutton, transport secretary Geoff Hoon and Welsh secretary Paul Murphy followed hours later.

Then Europe minister Caroline Flint quit — during Brown’s press conference — with an extraordinary attack on the prime minister.

PM under attack

She accused him of using her and other women as “female window dressing” and running a “two-tier” government with an “inner” Cabinet circle.

In his resignation letter late Thursday, Purnell said: “Your continued leadership makes a Conservative victory more, not less, likely. That would be disastrous for our country.”

“I am therefore calling on you to stand aside to give our party a fighting chance of winning.”

David Cameron, leader of the main opposition Conservatives, said Friday’s events showed the government was “completely falling apart.”

“He is not reshuffling the cabinet, the cabinet is reshuffling him,” Cameron said of Brown.

“The argument for a general election has always been strong; now it is unanswerable.”

A national vote must be held by the middle of next year at the latest.

Brown acknowledges situation

In his news conference, Brown acknowledged the damage caused by a scandal over lawmakers’ expenses and admitted his party was in line for a “painful defeat” after English local and European parliamentary elections held Thursday.

Although the European election results are not due until Sunday, Labour has suffered heavy losses in the council elections.

With results in from 30 out of 34 councils, the Conservatives have gained

217 seats and Labour have lost 250.

Labour surrendered to the Conservatives heartlands like Derbyshire in central England — which it controlled for 28 years — and Lancashire in the northwest.

Fringe parties also did well — the English Democrats, who want withdrawal from the European Union and an end to mass immigration, won the vote for mayor of Doncaster, a northern English town which was a Labour stronghold.

The far-right British National Party, hoping to win its first MEP, has gained its first three county councillors.

The BBC said if the results were replicated in a general election, Labour would be beaten into third place.

Bookies predict August exit

The party now also faces a tense by-election after Ian Gibson, a backbench lawmaker caught up in the expenses scandal, said he would stand down immediately.

Bookmakers Paddy Power are paying out on bets that Brown will leave his job before the end of August.

There was glimmer of light for him Friday as Alan Johnson, seen by many commentators as his most likely replacement, took over as home secretary and insisted he was not seeking to be premier.

Despite reports that Brown wanted to move heavyweights like finance minister Alistair Darling and Foreign Secretary David Miliband out of their jobs, they remained in place.

Darling had been tipped to make way for Brown’s loyal lieutenant, Schools Secretary Ed Balls, but commentators said the premier no longer had the authority to push the move through.

Flint was replaced as Europe minister by former Labour Party leader Neil Kinnock’s wife Glenys, currently a European parliament member who will be appointed to the unelected upper House of Lords chamber.

Expenses scandal sees 17 leave

In power since 1997, Labour has been badly hit by the scandal over lavish expense claims from the public purse by lawmakers which has seen 17 MPs say they will step down since it broke.

Public anger is particularly high as Britain is struggling with the worst recession since World War II.

Dutch claim surprise win over England

Netherlands captain Jeroen Smits was in no doubt his nation had enjoyed their finest cricket victory ever after a stunning four-wicket win over England in the opening match of the ICC World Twenty20.

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Set 163 to win, the Dutch got the two they needed off the last ball to spark joyous scenes amongst their players and fans at Lord’s as the hosts suffered a defeat that must rank as one of the most embarrassing in English cricket history.

A side of well-paid full-time professionals were deservedly beaten by a Dutch team where most of the players were losing money as a result of taking part in this competition.

Back in 1989 a Netherlands side beat an England A team featuring the likes of Test players Nasser Hussain, Alec Stewart and Derek Pringle while back in 1964 an Australia side including fast bowler Graham McKenzie and off-spinner Tom Veivers also went down to a defeat against the Dutch.

Dutch cricket’s greatest day

But neither of those games, both played in the Netherlands, was a full international and elated wicket-keeper Smits, asked if this was Dutch cricket’s greatest day, told reporters: “Without any doubt.

“We beat England A in 1989 but last year when we played in the Belfast qualification tournament for this event I said to the guys I had a goal to play in the opening match of the World Twenty20 at Lord’s.

“I’m really proud of the boys.

“It’s costing us a lot of money, I’m having to take extra days off work but I really don’t mind at this moment.

“I said to the boys in the dressing room we are going to do it today, play hard, play your shots, we have got nothing to lose.”

He added: “It’s a massive boost for Dutch cricket, we are looking to qualify for the Super Eights.”

England were well-placed at 102 for one thanks to openers Luke Wright (71) and Ravi Bopara (46) before their innings petered away.

But what really did for them was the Dutch batting with the Netherlands scoring four sixes to the home side’s none and running far more aggressively between the wickets.

Man-of-the match Tom de Grooth, who earns his living as a cricket coach, led the way with 49 off 30 balls including a six and six fours.

“This is a dream,” he said. “To be out there today in front of a full house was amazing. I was in the zone. We went out there to play brave cricket and make England sweat a bit.”

England wavered with novice leg-spinner

England had lost star batsman Kevin Pietersen shortly before the start with a recurrence of his Achilles injury.

But that was no excuse for the way in which a succession of batsmen gave their wickets away.

The Dutch were also helped by England’s decision to give novice leg-spinner Adil Rashid, surprisingly chosen ahead of the more experienced off-spinner

Graeme Swann, his full quota of four overs which cost 36 runs.

The wet conditions did him no favours but England captain Paul Collingwood insisted the team on the field should have beaten the Dutch.

“That’s pretty hard to take,” Collingwood said. “The Netherlands thoroughly deserved their victory,

“We thought we had enough runs on the board but they played with freedom and belief and ran better than us”

Missed run-outs and dropped catches cost England dear and Collingwood said:

“We had opportunities to win the game but we didn’t take them.”

Defeat left England needing to beat Pakistan at the Oval on Sunday to get through the second stage Super Eight and Collingwood said: “We’ve got 24 hours to get our heads round it. We are still in the tournament but we’ve got to play a helluva lot better.”

Federer vies for French Open victory

Roger Federer moved to within one match of finally winning the French Open when he came from behind to defeat giant Argentinean Juan Martin del Potro in Friday’s semi-finals.

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The second seed, who has lost the last three finals here to Rafael Nadal, took everything Del Potro could fling at him and then pounced when the South American wilted to win a cliff-hanger 3-6 7-6 (7-2) 2-6 6-1 6-4.

In Sunday’s final he will take on Swedish surprise Robin Soderling who sent top seed Nadal crashing out in a fourth round shocker.

Soderling, seeded 23, had earlier reached the championship match with a battling 6-3 7-5 5-7 4-6 6-4 semi-final win over Fernando Gonzalez of Chile.

One step closer

It was the second five-setter for Federer in the tournament having battled back from two sets to love down against Tommy Haas in the fourth round.

“That’s one more step and I am so happy to have comeback like that,” he said.

“For a moment there Juan Martin was playing so well, but I had some luck on my side and I fought hard.

“Soderling played a great match against Gonzalez to be in the final. He deserves to be there because he also beat Nadal and he was the man to beat in this tournament.”

Del Potro had dropped just the one set en route to the last four while Federer had dropped four, but with the world No.2 having won all five of their previous matches in straight sets he was the big favourite.

Federer had the first break point to go 3-1 up, but failed to take it and quickly fell 0-40 down on his following serve.

He staved off two of the break points against him, but Del Potro converted the third to lead 3-2.

Del Potro easily held his next two serves hitting his first serves at well over 200 kilometres per hour and there was a stunned silence as he then broke Federer to love in the following game taking the set in 38 minutes.

Federer steadied the ship as they moved on to the second set but he was still unable to put any real pressure on the South American’s big serve which he was holding with ease.

Serves dominated until the 10th game when Federer chose the wrong time to come into the net on a first serve and allowed Del Potro to blast a backhand past him.

Federer fights back

The Argentinian got to 0-30 before Federer clawed his way back eliciting a huge roar of approval from a packed centre court crowd.

Still Federer could do nothing to menace the Del Potro serve and it needed a superb tie-break from him, taking the first three points and then winning it 7/2, to avoid having to face a two sets to love deficit for the second time in the tournament.

Federer let out a roar of self-encouragement as he clinched that, but the frown was back on his face minutes later when he played a loose service game to hand back the initiative to Del Potro at the start of the third set.

Del Potro had two further break points in the fifth game to take a 4-1 lead, but he was a fraction wide on a forehand blast on the second of those and Federer held for 3-2.

Two games later, however, Federer let Del Potro off the hook when he was stranded at the net hitting three times straight at him and he paid the penalty when the Argentinian went on to grab a double break.

Once again he comfortably served out to take a two sets to one lead.

Federer finally had another break point to lead 2-0 in the fourth set but Del Potro wiped that out with a big forehand into the corner followed by a pair of big serves.

Del Potro comes undone

Two games later though Del Potro finally wavered on his serve and Federer pounced to take a 3-1 lead. He then ran off the next three games as Del Potro started to unravel.

The South American was on the ropes, his service game stalling, and Federer showed no mercy to break him in the opening game of the deciding set.

Del Potro did get back on level terms 3-3 by breaking Federer in the sixth game, but he dropped his own in the next game double faulting on break point to hand the Swiss player the final opening he needed.

The win put the Swiss star into his 19th Grand Slam final, equalling the record of Ivan Lendl.

A 14th Grand Slam title win here on Sunday would put Federer level with Pete Sampras and lend weight to the argument that he is the greatest player of all time.

He has won his nine previous matches against Soderling dropping just a single set in the process. They have met once this year with Federer winning 6-1 7-5 on the way to the Madrid claycourt title last month.

GPS shoes for Alzheimer’s patients

A shoe-maker and a technology company are teaming up to develop footwear with a built-in GPS device that could help track down “wandering” seniors suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease.

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“The technology will provide the location of the individual wearing the shoes within 30 feet, anywhere on the planet,” said Andrew Carle, an assistant professor at George Mason University who served as an advisor on the project.

“Sixty percent of individuals afflicted with Alzheimer’s Disease will be involved in a ‘critical wandering incident’ at least once during the progression of the disease — many more than once,” he said Friday.

The shoes are being developed by GTX Corp., which makes miniaturized Global Positioning Satellite tracking and location-transmitting technology, and Aetrex Worldwide, a footwear manufacturer.

Carle said embedding a GPS device in a shoe was important because Alzheimer’s victims tend to remove unfamiliar objects placed on them but getting dressed is one of the last types of memory they retain.

He said a “geo-fence” could be placed around a person’s home and a “Google Map” alert sent to a cell phone, home or office computer when a programmed boundary is crossed.

“The shoe we intend on developing with Aetrex should help authorized family members, friends, or caretakers reduce their stress and anguish by enabling them to locate their loved ones instantly with the click of mouse,” said Chris Walsh, chief operating officer of GTX Corp.

The companies said they plan to begin testing the product by the fourth quarter of the year.

Ghost alps of Antarctica

Millions of years ago, rivers ran in Antarctica through craggy mountain valleys that were strangely similar to the European Alps of today, Chinese and British scientists reported on Wednesday.

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In a study published by the British journal Nature, they gave a snapshot of terrain that for aeons has lain hidden beneath ice up to several kilometres (nearly two miles) thick.

The imaging comes from a gruelling effort by Chinese glaciologists to probe the mysterious realm beneath the East Antarctic heights, one of the most

forbidding places in the world.

In 2004-5 and again in 2007-8, the team hauled deep-penetrating ground radar around a box-shaped sector, measuring 30 kilometers (18 miles) by 30 kilometres, at a point called Dome Argus, or Dome A.

Dome A lies at 4,093 metres (13,302 feet) above sea level and has an average annual temperature of -58.4 degrees Celsius (-73 degrees Fahrenheit).

Beneath it is an ice sheet between 1,649 and 3,135 metres thick that smothers the Gamburtsev mountains, a range named after a Soviet geophysicist, Grigoriy Gamburtsev, who detected the peaks in 1958.

The radar reflections revealed “classic Alpine topography” similar to Europe’s Alps, showing that once there were river valleys that cut their way through the mountains.

Later, these valleys were gouged and deepened by glaciers.

“The landscape has probably been preserved beneath the ice sheet for around

14 million years,” says the paper.

The research chimes with deep-sea isotope records that give insights into how Earth got its polar caps.

These suggest there was a period of global cooling, called the Eocene,between 52 and 34 million years ago.

Then came two progressively sharper periods of cooling, linked to a fall in levels of naturally-produced greenhouse gases in the atmosphere — the same gases that, man-made, are today blamed for warming.

Changes in Earth’s orbit and the formation of the frigid current that flows around Antarctica contributed to the process of placing the continent in a deep freeze.

Big chill

The first of the big chills came at the start of what is called the Oligocene period, around 34 million years ago, when glaciers first started to form in Antarctica.

The Gamburtsev mountains, because of their high altitude, were probably one of the places where glaciation first began, the scientists believe. At the time, there would have been a mean summer temperature of three degrees C (37 degrees F), they estimate.

The second cooling spurt came some 14 million years ago, characterised by a plunge in temperatures of around six to seven degrees C (10.8-12.6 degrees F), reaching up to eight degrees C (14.4 degrees F) in the Transantarctic Mountains, the spine that divides East from West Antarctica.

Socceroos savour World Cup qualification

Australia booked their ticket to the 2010 World Cup finals in South Africa with a scoreless draw against a determined Qatar at the Al Sadd Club in Doha on Saturday night.

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Needing only a point to officially seal qualification, the Socceroos did what was required against a youthful Qatar side to ensure back-to-back World Cup appearances for the first time. It will be only Australia’s third World Cup after appearances in 1974 and 2006 and they will be joined by Asian rivals Japan and South Korea, who also qualified on Saturday with wins over Uzbekistan and the UAE respectively. “It’s amazing, it hasn’t sunk in yet,” captain Lucas Neill said after the match. “But it’s an unbelievable achievement. “To be the second or third team into the World Cup is truly an honour. “I’m so proud we’ve created some history for the country and we can sit back now and see who’s going to join us.” Tough opposition Qatar proved tougher opposition than they had in three previous losses, but Australia could feel unlucky not to have won after having several efforts saved by Qatari goalkeeper Qasem Burhan. Both sides made a tentative start in front of a small but vocal crowd, with the Socceroos content to keep possession in the hot and humid conditions. Qatar’s star striker Sebastian Soria Quintana looked the most likely and had several chances before the Socceroos muscled their way on top. Tim Cahill struck the post with a spectacular bicycle kick in the the 27th minute, but it’s unlikely the goal would have stood anyway with the referee calling a foul. Josh Kennedy impressed in a lone striking role while Harry Kewell became increasingly menacing after switching to the right wing, going close to scoring himself before creating another move which led to Vince Grella firing a volley just over the bar in the 33rd minute. Australia stepped up their game early in the second half with a flash of chances within a 10-minute period. Defender Chris Coyne, who had his shot cleared off the line after attempting to turn in a headed Cahill effort. Cahill Australia’s best Australia’s best Cahill was denied another stunner when his powerful drive was brilliantly saved in the 57th minute by Burhan. Burhan was called into action again to tip over a Kennedy shot from out wide and once more in the 63rd minute when Kewell hit a rocket with his right foot. The Socceroos looked increasingly threatening but did not get the goal they perhaps deserved. In the end it didn’t matter, with Pim Verbeek’s men clinching qualification with two matches to go, Bahrain in Sydney on Wednesday and Japan in Melbourne a week later, and without conceding a goal in six. “It’s a bit strange, you don’t really have the feeling that you qualified for the World Cup, that feeling will come in the coming days,” Verbeek said. “The boys are feeling fantastic, I think they did a great job, very professional job. “It was not an easy job today. I think Qatar made it very difficult for us.” Neill will miss the Bahrain game after picking up what he admitted was a “tactical” yellow card with a tackle on Quintana late in the game. “I left it as late as a could,” he said. “It was probably a borderline orange but I want to play the Japan game and the only way to do that was to make sure I miss the Bahrain game.”

Rudd accused of playing favourites in reshuffle

Meanwhile, Australian Greens leader Bob Brown says more women should have been elevated to the ministry in the front bench reshuffle.

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But Treasurer Wayne Swan says the reshuffle recognised the abilities of former assistant treasurer Chris Bowen, unionist Greg Combet and Senator Mark Arbib in particular. Mr Hockey says the shake-up, that followed last week’s resignation of Joel Fitzgibbon from the defence portfolio, did not elevate talent. He singled out two big winners, Chris Bowen who has been elevated to cabinet, and Mark Arbib, has been elevated to the ministry. “Chris Bowen bungled FuelWatch, grocery watch and the employee share scheme initiative in the budget and then gets rewarded with a very senior cabinet post,” Mr Hockey told the Nine network. “(And) Mark Arbib, the architect of the NSW Labor government, gets rewarded. “You’ve got to ask yourself on what criteria did Mr Rudd promote these sort of people?” Mr Rudd is “rewarding those people that have supported him,” he said. “(And) There seems to be a lot of payback by Mr Rudd to key faction chiefs.” But he was not as critical of Greg Combet, who takes on the role of Minister for Defence Personnel, Materiel, and Science. “I don’t underestimate Greg Combet. (He) is a very talented individual.” Retrograde step: Brown Senator Brown called the new-look ministry a retrograde step. “This was a golden opportunity to even up the enormous imbalance there is in government,” Senator Brown told ABC radio. Queensland Senator Jan McLucas has stepped down from her role as Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Health and Ageing to focus on her role as a senator. Kate Ellis has been appointed Minister for Early Childhood Education, Childcare and Youth, in addition to her existing Sport portfolio. And Maxine McKew has been made Parliamentary Secretary for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government. But no new women have been given ministerial duties under the reshuffle announced by Mr Rudd in Brisbane. Showcasing Labor talent: Swan Treasurer Wayne Swan says Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s front bench reshuffle showcases Labor’s talent. “I think it is a measured reshaping of the ministry,” Mr Swan told Network Ten on Sunday. “I think it also demonstrates the depth of talent in the government.”