Federal Labor and foreign policy analysts have criticised the appointment of former Tasmanian premier Will Hodgman to an important overseas posting, saying the role should have gone to a career diplomat instead.
Foreign Minister Marise Payne announced on Sunday that Mr Hodgman, who resigned as premier in January to spend more time with his family, would be Australia's next high commissioner to Singapore.
Labor's foreign affairs spokeswoman Penny Wong said the move showed Prime Minister Scott Morrison was "turning our foreign service into a Liberal Party retirement home".
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"The only jobs he cares about are jobs for his mates," Ms Wong said via Twitter.
"Singapore is an important posting and warrants a serious appointment. This isn't it."
Yesterday, Mr Hodgman said he was looking forward to promoting the nation's interests in Singapore, with whom he said Australia had "rich and longstanding cultural connections".
"It is a great honour to be appointed Australia's next High Commissioner to Singapore," he tweeted.
"Singapore is a vital hub in our region, the Indo-Pacific, and we share many common interests and immense opportunities.
"Our work will become increasingly important as we respond to the health challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, and also our nation's economic recovery."
It is a great honour to be appointed Australia’s next High Commissioner to Singapore. I very much look forward to working to promote our nation’s interests in Singapore - our 6th largest trading partner - and a place with which we have rich and longstanding cultural connections.— Will Hodgman (@WillHodgman) November 30, 2020
Former diplomat Bruce Haigh expressed frustration over Mr Hodgman's appointment.
"OMG," he said on Twitter. "What an insult to an important and influential SE Asian neighbour."
"It is a sensitive and demanding post which requires a professional diplomat ..."
Philip Citowicki, a foreign policy expert who previously served as an adviser to ex-foreign minister Julie Bishop, said the selection of Mr Hodgman for the high commissioner job would be disappointing for seasoned diplomats who may have thought themselves qualified for the role.
I've argued before that political appointees can be brilliant. But it's a hard sell when it's a mission that is traditionally occupied by a DFATer. While Hodgman will likely be great, it's a blow to those who have put in the hard yards in DFAT for sure. https://t.co/18Qpek7MNUhttps://t.co/t5Azbi541b— Philip Citowicki (@citowicki) November 29, 2020
"I've argued before that political appointees can be brilliant," he wrote on social media. "But it's a hard sell when it's a mission that is traditionally occupied by a DFATer.".
"While Hodgman will likely be great, it's a blow to those who have put in the hard yards in DFAT for sure."
Mr Hodgman last month stepped down as the inaugural chairman of the Australian Business Growth Fund.
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