Australia’s Ambassador to the United States, Joe Hockey, has decided to return home when his posting ends in January, regardless of who wins next weekend’s federal election.
The former Liberal treasurer has served in the role since 2016, throughout an often chaotic period in American politics which has seen Donald Trump’s administration regularly ignore traditional diplomatic niceties.
During his posting, Mr Hockey has developed ties in Congress and the White House.
An enthusiastic albeit unaccomplished golfer, he has also joined President Donald Trump on the fairways a few times, most recently at the Commander-in-Chief’s Florida resort Mar-a-Lago.
The valuable one-on-one time is reported to have made some other members of Washington DC’s diplomatic community envious.
Notably Mr Hockey also successfully lobbied to ensure Australia retained exclusive access to US E-3 visas, amid a push by Ireland to muscle in on the scheme, and oversaw the construction of a grass tennis court at the Australian Ambassador’s residence in the leafy north-west of Washington.
An embassy spokeswoman declined to comment on Mr Hockey’s departure, but the ABC understands he has informed some staff.
Whoever replaces Mr Hockey will have the task of quickly building ties with an occasionally unpredictable White House, during what is shaping up to be a fractious election year.
With polls suggesting a Labor government could be elected on May 18, there has been plenty of speculation about who Bill Shorten might appoint to the plum job.
Former Labor communications minister Stephen Conroy and former Labor defence minister Stephen Smith are two names often spoken about in Washington circles.
During his career as a cabinet minister, Mr Hockey delivered two budgets following the Abbott government’s election in 2013.
He was made ambassador after Malcolm Turnbull took over as Prime Minister.