Former federal treasurer Joe Hockey has officially been announced as the Australia’s next Ambassador to the United States.
Hockey, who was dumped from the cabinet with the rise of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, and signalled his imminent exit from parliament resulting in a byelection in North Sydney, will take up the new post in early 2016. He replaces Kim Beazley, who has held the post since 2010.
There had been some disquiet in the media over the rumoured appointment of Hockey to the key diplomatic post, as there were assumptions the US government would not want him and could quietly reject the appointment if it was seen as a political gift to removal a rival.
Beazley’s next move
Kim Beazley is expected to start a new role with the Australian Institute of International Affairs as their national president in January.
Throughout his time in Washington, Beazley has dazzled the rotating journalists, diplomatic staff and US officials with his deep knowledge of US political and military history, as well as sharing anecdotes of Australian politics. His frequent lectures were viewed as must-attend events for many in Washington circles.
From one ambassador to another
Another former Australian ambassador to the US, John McCarthy, offered some advice to Hockey based on his experience in the role:
“You can and must get across the substance of all our issues. Kim was already authoritative on some of them. He had read American history – again a demonstration of respect. And he already knew much of the security issues we have in common, but he had to keep at it. In political terms, Washington is the centre the world with the ever changing complexity that entails. Get across it, ask advice. Americans will give it to you generously.
“You will have good staff. While it is fashionable to berate our foreign service, they are hard working and clever. Treat them as professionals and they will do anything for you. Treat them with condescension and you both will be the poorer – but as you will be the boss your poverty will be the more obvious.
“And remember that the professionals are paid to understand what is foreign to Australians.”