Joe Hockey has been enjoying his ‘farewell tour’ of politics in New York as part of his role as Australian ambassador to the US, but with the arrival of Donald Trump things are about to get serious.
Two of his predecessors, Kim Beazley and Bob Carr, have warned that Mr Hockey will need to work harder than any other ambassador to try to build a relationship with Team Trump and keep the TPP deal alive.
While ambassador are usually perceived as cushy roles it looks like Mr Hockey is in for the hard slog as our relationship with America and the future of our economy depend on it.
Over the next few months, Mr Hockey will need to try convince president-elect Trump to do a backflip on his promise to put a 45 per cent tariff on Chinese imports and drain military support for Japan and Korea.
“Hockey has to talk him out of delivering on that,” Mr Carr said, reports the Sydney Morning Herald.
“Trump’s promise is a con, it’s a Barnum & Bailey circus trick because the old jobs he has promised workers cannot be conjured back.
“A trade war between the US and China would be alarmingly damaging to Australia. Trump could likely be talked out of the 45 per cent tax on Chinese imports but he could be persuaded to implement some more modest anti-trade measures. Taking down the Chinese economy would be an act of pure lunacy.”
Mr Hockey has plenty of experience as a negotiator thanks to his time as federal treasurer, but his budgets were largely perceived as harsh causing some distrust from the public.
With Mr Trump’s tendency to come out guns blazing, some are wondering how Mr Hockey will handle the challenge.
Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said she’s already spoken to Hockey and told him to make the TPP a priority.
“We have deep connections with the Republican side of politics and we will certainly be using those networks and connections,” she said.