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Last Updated: Friday, 1 June 2007, 09:08 GMT 10:08 UK
New cabinet will 'build bridges'
Rhodri Morgan in the Senedd chamber on Friday
Rhodri Morgan has been drawing up the new team for the past week
First Minister Rhodri Morgan has defended his new cabinet saying it will bring a fresh approach and "build bridges" with the opposition.

The announcement on Thursday which revealed changes but no new faces, has been met with some criticism.

Plaid Cymru said it was "the same old tired faces" and would not have "renewed ambition for Wales".

Mr Morgan told Radio Wales he also rejected criticism that there were no AMs from north Wales in the cabinet.

While no north Wales cabinet members were announced, Alyn and Deeside AM Carl Sargeant was announced as chief whip and deputy business minister and will attend all cabinet meetings.

Speaking on the Good Morning Wales programme Mr Morgan said: "Cabinet ministers don't represent geographical areas, they do jobs.

"We don't select people on the basis of geography, we select people on the basis that they are big hitters. I've chosen the big hitters. Those "big hitters", he added, would provide the stable government Wales was "crying out" for.

One of the most noted changes was the transfer of health from Brian Gibbons to ex-social justice minister Edwina Hart.

We don't select people on the basis of geography, we select people on the basis that they are big hitters
Rhodri Morgan

Dr Gibbons is now economy and transport minister and former education minister Jane Davidson takes charge of "sustainability and rural development".

Carwyn Jones becomes the new education, culture and Welsh language minister.

For the Conservatives, the cabinet announcement revealed Mr Morgan was interested in "day-to-day survival".

And the Lib Dems suggested he was "conscious that the cabinet's work is likely to be time limited".

Mr Morgan was re-appointed first minister last Friday after a coalition agreement between the three other parties appeared to collapse when it was rejected by senior Liberal Democrats.

But the following day, Lib Dems voted to go ahead with the alliance at a special conference. The Welsh Conservative's management board has also backed the plans and Plaid Cymru's national council will meet in July to makes its decision.

But despite the criticism, the first minister said there had to be a balance between experience and a fresh approach in the "tricky" political situation.

Carwyn Jones, new education minister and playing cards graphic
Rhodri Morgan shuffles pack
First Minister: Rhodri Morgan
Health and social services: Edwina Hart
Education, culture and Welsh language: Carwyn Jones
Economy and transport: Brian Gibbons
Sustainability and rural development: Jane Davidson
Social justice and public service delivery: Andrew Davies
Budget and business: Jane Hutt

"If we'd have kept everybody in the same jobs, people would have said we were battening down the hatches because we didn't expect to be there very long," he said.

"We've done the opposite of that because we're being positive about forming an administration for the long term.

"We're asking people to do new jobs, to bring fresh faces and fresh ideas to their portfolio."

In other changes, former economic and transport minister Andrew Davies takes over Ms Hart's social justice portfolio and will also be responsible for improving the standard of public services.

Mr Morgan took his oath of office as first minister on Friday, exactly a week since being elected to the post by the assembly.

Later on Thursday, Mr Morgan also appointed four deputy ministers. They are: Gwenda Thomas, health and social services; Huw Lewis, economy and transport; Leighton Andrews, social justice and public service delivery; John Griffiths, education, culture and Welsh language.

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