JULIA Gillard's extended election campaign has suffered another damaging blow with the shock resignation of the third most senior minister in her Government, Higher Education Minister Chris Evans.
Senator Evans, the Government's Leader in the Senate and therefore the third in line to the prime ministership, will leave his post this morning resigning both his Cabinet post and the leadership position immediately.
He will stay in the Senate until the September 14 election but will not contest that election.
The West Australian's departure will force a consequent reshuffle of ministers which is also expected to be unveiled today.
While Ms Gillard retains the power to choose her ministers, the leadership position in the Senate will require a ballot of the ALP Caucus and is likely to be hotly contested.
A Government source told Fairfax Media that Mr Evans had wanted to leave politics and had decided now was the right time.
"He’d just had enough," said one senior source.
But for Ms Gillard, struggling to contain the fallout from the renewed Craig Thomson issue just two days after her extended election campaign gamble, the perception of her losing a senior minister in the same week that she has announced the election campaign.
Possibilities for the role are Finance Minister, Penny Wong from Senator Evans' Left faction, and the Right's Stephen Conroy