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Australia's Day

Tony's Been Offered a Job as Special Envoy on Indigenous Affairs

He said he's not sure what that means.

by Gavin Butler
27 August 2018, 2:31am

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After missing out on a ministry in Scott Morrison’s new-look cabinet, Tony Abbott has been offered a role as special envoy to the Prime Minister on Indigenous Affairs. But Abbott won’t accept the position until he figures out what that means.

“It’s not exactly clear what he’s offering,” he told reporters outside his Sydney home this morning. “I obviously had a chat to the new prime minister yesterday, and as you know I’ve been working hard in Indigenous affairs for a long, long time.”

Speaking to 2GB, Abbott expressed concerns that the role was not “fair dinkum” and insisted that he didn’t want to trip “trip over the toes” of the Indigenous Affairs minister.

“I don’t just want a title without a role,” he said, and noted that he would consult Noel Pearson and the Wunan Foundation executive director, Ian Trust, before making a decision. The former prime minister further rejected the suggestion that he would be retiring from politics altogether, claiming he still considers himself “a young man”.

Abbott’s spokesman suggested that he “needed to know the precise terms of what was being proposed” in the role as Indigenous affairs envoy, as “it’s not clear how any such role would interact with the minister and all the other bodies in this space”, News Corp reported.

Several other political voices have meanwhile spoken out in support of Abbott taking on the position. New Liberal deputy Josh Frydenberg cited his long-standing passion for Indigenous affairs, while both Mathias Cormann and Stuart Robert stated that he has a lot to offer in the role.

Morrison unveiled his fresh cabinet on Sunday, just two days after becoming Australia’s 30th prime minister. Former Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce was made special envoy for drought assistance and recovery, while Peter Dutton—who competed against Morrison for the leadership position—was restored as Home Affairs minister.

Morrison has branded it his “next-generation team”.