Australian defence minister resigns: PM

Other News Materials 4 June 2009 11:29 (UTC +04:00)

Australia's scandal-hit defence minister stepped down on Thursday over "mistakes related to accountability," Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said, AFP reported.

Joel Fitzgibbon stepped down over revelations that he called an army general in charge of defence health services to a meeting with his brother, who runs an insurance company.

"The minister has offered me his resignation, I've accepted it and I think it's the right thing to do," Rudd said.

Rudd said Fitzgibbon had paid a "high price" for his error, which follows a series of damaging gaffes which had called his position into question.

Fitzgibbon had been under pressure over two trips to China paid for by a Chinese-Australian businesswoman. This week, he also admitted failed to disclose a night's hotel accommodation paid for by his brother's firm.

"Obviously we're sad about this but it's important that we maintain high standards of ministerial accountability," Rudd said.

"That's why I believe the minister has acted responsibly."