New Prime Minister Scott Morrison offers Tony Abbott envoy on indigenous affairs role
New Prime Minister Scott Morrison offers Tony Abbott envoy on indigenous affairs role MICK TSIKAS

Abbott: ‘I don’t just want a title without a role’

TONY ABBOTT is mulling over Scott Morrison's offer of a return from exile in the role of special envoy to the Prime Minister in indigenous affairs but stressed: 'I don't just want a title without a role'.

"What I don't want to do is trip over the toes of the minister … we've already got a lot of people in this space and I'd want to know exactly what value I can add," Mr Abbott said today.

 

Tony Abbott pictured in Sydney at the weekend. Picture: Sam Ruttyn
Tony Abbott pictured in Sydney at the weekend. Picture: Sam Ruttyn

 

 

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," Mr Abbott told Sydney radio station 2GB.

Whether or not he takes up the offer, Mr Abbott has stressed he will not be retiring at the next election, saying he regards himself as a "young man".

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

Mr Abbott has been in early talks with Mr Morrison about the position, made in the spirit of bringing the former PM back into the fold and cauterising the party's wounds following the overthrow of two leaders.

But Mr Abbott's spokesman last night said he has not accepted the offer and was "worried about something that is a title without a role".

"Mr Abbott has been asked to consider being an 'envoy' in the indigenous area," he said.

"He said he would consider it but needed to know the precise terms of what was being proposed, as it's not clear how any such role would interact with the minister and all the other bodies in this space. He looks forward to discussion with the PM once all this has been thought through."

Tony Abbott after the second vote that ousted Malcolm Turnbull as prime minister. Picture: Ray Strange
Tony Abbott after the second vote that ousted Malcolm Turnbull as prime minister. Picture: Ray Strange

 

Mr Abbott is worried about being given a position that is little more than a title without a role. Picture: Ray Strange
Mr Abbott is worried about being given a position that is little more than a title without a role. Picture: Ray Strange

 

Mr Morrison's office would not comment on the offer to Mr Abbott when contacted by The Daily Telegraph.

The talks came as Mr Abbott threw his unequivocal support behind Mr Morrison and Liberal Deputy Leader Josh Frydenberg - describing their leadership as an "important reset" for the federal government.

In an email to voters in his electorate, he said accusations of treachery by Malcolm Turnbull were "given his history, pretty shameless", and blamed the recently deposed prime minister's decision to call a shock leadership spill as the cause of his downfall, not "insurgents" or "wreckers."

 

Prime Minister Scott Morrison with Federal Treasurer and Liberal Deputy Leader Josh Frydenberg during a meeting at Parliament House in Canberra on Sunday. Picture: AAP
Prime Minister Scott Morrison with Federal Treasurer and Liberal Deputy Leader Josh Frydenberg during a meeting at Parliament House in Canberra on Sunday. Picture: AAP

 

After just two days in the top job, Mr Morrison unveiled his "next generation" team, promoting five women, returning industrial relations and small business to Cabinet and reaching across the political divide to heal the wounds of the past week.

Some of the most significant moves include the weakening of leadership rival Peter Dutton's Home Affairs portfolio, handing the two major problems of energy prices and education funding to conservative critics to fix, Angus Taylor and Dan Tehan, and recruiting Barnaby Joyce as a special envoy for drought.

Peter Dutton keeps Home Affairs, Marise Payne replaces Julie Bishop as Foreign Minister, Greg Hunt holds on to the Health portfolio and Mathias Cormann retains his Finance portfolio.
Peter Dutton keeps Home Affairs, Marise Payne replaces Julie Bishop as Foreign Minister, Greg Hunt holds on to the Health portfolio and Mathias Cormann retains his Finance portfolio.

 

Defence Minister Marise Payne was catapulted into the foreign ministry following Julie Bishop's resignation, while Christopher Pyne took on the Defence role.

Mr Morrison also extended an olive branch to insurgent conservatives by ultimately keeping leadership rival Mr Dutton in Home Affairs and his backers Mathias Cormann and Greg Hunt in their senior positions of Finance and Health.

 

Malcolm Turnbull leaves The Lodge in Canberra with wife Lucy on his morning walk on Sunday and waves to the waiting media. Picture: Sean Davey
Malcolm Turnbull leaves The Lodge in Canberra with wife Lucy on his morning walk on Sunday and waves to the waiting media. Picture: Sean Davey

 

Rewarding his loyal supporters, Mr Morrison promoted Paul Fletcher, Melissa Price and Karen Andrews to Cabinet in the roles of Social Services, Environment and Industry respectively.

His factional ally and housemate Stuart Robert was made assistant treasurer and centre-right faction leader Alex Hawke was handed Special Minister for State.

Promoted … Paul Fletcher to Social Services. Picture: Toby Zerna
Promoted … Paul Fletcher to Social Services. Picture: Toby Zerna

Dutton supporter Steven Ciobo was moved from Trade Minister into Defence Industries and Alan Tudge was made the minister for "congestion busting" in the Cities, Infrastructure and Population portfolio.

In a demotion, Simon Birmingham was dumped from Education after his funding debacle with the Catholic education sector.

 

 

Simon Birmingham was dumped from Education after his funding debacle with the Catholic education sector. Picture: Sean Davey
Simon Birmingham was dumped from Education after his funding debacle with the Catholic education sector. Picture: Sean Davey

 

Other Dutton backers, including Michael Sukkar, Concetta Fierravanti-Wells, James McGrath and John McVeigh, were all dumped from their ministry positions, while Michael Keenan was dropped from Cabinet.

Mr Morrison said the new Liberal-National line-up was a "next-generation team".

 

 

Mr Abbott will today give a "call-to-arms" speech to rally Liberal members behind Mr Morrison.

"After the most tumultuous week in our party's history, I am making contact to assure you that Prime Minister Scott Morrison and new deputy Josh Frydenberg will have my full support," he said in the email to his electorate.

"This is an important reset for our party and, with all my colleagues, I'm determined to put the past behind us and work with the new team."

The former PM will now help Mr Morrison attack Bill Shorten before a federal election that could be held any time before the end of May next year.

"Despite our party's self-inflicted wounds since I led us to victory in 2013, Labor is still very beatable," he said.

Mr Abbott said that with Mr Turnbull now gone he was confident there would be clear policy direction.

Promoted … Melissa Price to Environment. Picture: AAP
Promoted … Melissa Price to Environment. Picture: AAP
Promoted … Karen Andrews to Industry.
Promoted … Karen Andrews to Industry.
Moved … Steve Ciobo from Trade Minister into Defence Industries. Picture: AAP
Moved … Steve Ciobo from Trade Minister into Defence Industries. Picture: AAP