Australia

Tony Abbott considering Indigenous envoy role

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Tony Abbott is considering an offer to become the special envoy to the prime minister on indigenous affairs, after Scott Morrison left him out of his cabinet.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has vowed to give Tony Abbott a clearer picture of an indigenous affairs role he has offered him.

Mr Morrison has been in discussions with the former prime minister after leaving him out of his new-look cabinet, in an effort to heal the wounds of last week's damaging leadership spill.

He's offered Mr Abbott the role of special envoy for indigenous affairs, but the Warringah MP wants to know exactly what it means before he decides whether to accept it.

 

Mr Abbott says he doesn't want to step on the toes of Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion or others.

"We've already got a lot of people in this space and I'd like to know exactly what value I could add," he told 2GB Radio on Monday.

Getting things done in indigenous affairs also requires "prime ministerial authority", Mr Abbott said.

"It doesn't need people running around at the margins, it needs someone at the very top to cut through."

During a visit tot a drought-stricken farm in rural Queensland on Monday, Mr Morrison said Mr Abbott deserved the respect of a full proposal.

"Tony and I are continuing to talk about the role he can play and, as a former prime minister, I want to use his experience," he told reporters.

"I want to use his insights in an area I know he is deeply passionate about."

Labor's indigenous affairs spokesman Senator Patrick Dodson said it would be "condescending" to first nations people if Mr Abbott took the role, particularly as he has not lent his support to an indigenous voice in parliament.

 

Mr Dodson criticised the MP's "ignorant, hopeless and frankly offensive track record on indigenous issues".

"Who can forget his profoundly offensive comments in 2015, claiming that people living in remote communities without adequate services were making a 'lifestyle choice'," he said in a statement.

"While defending his government's decision to close up to 150 remote communities."

Whatever role he plays in Mr Morrison's government, Mr Abbott says he will not be retiring at the next election, regarding himself as a "young man".

"I still think I have a lot of public life left in me," he said.

"I will be doing everything I can to ensure we win the next election, and look if that's as the member for Warringah, if that's as something else, I'll do the best I can."

Mr Morrison said his new ministry - which includes some of those behind the toppling of Malcolm Turnbull - would bring healing to the coalition and prepare the government for a federal election due by May.

 

 

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