After a quarter of a century in public life, the next place you’ll find Joe Hockey is in a tuk tuk in the Himalayas.
The outgoing Australian ambassador to the United States was farewelled on Saturday (AEDT) at a party in Washington DC thrown by Australian billionaire businessman Anthony Pratt.
Mr Hockey ends his four-year term as ambassador next week and has guided Australia through Mr Trump’s tumultuous time in the White House.
Golfer Greg Norman was on hand to present a cheque for nearly $650,000 raised jointly through his foundation and the American Australian Association for the Red Cross’ bushfire appeal.
He is the one who swears he’s persuaded Mr Hockey to make a rickshaw run around some of the world’s highest mountains to kick off his next act.
Former prime minister Tony Abbott flew across the world to make a farewell speech for his schoolmate, rugby buddy and federal treasurer.
“I like to think that Australia is America’s indispensable partner,” he told the crowd of diplomats, politicos and business people.
“This great partnership for peace has been put in flashing neon lights, thanks to Joe Hockey’s inspired 100 years of mateship campaign.”
He said the sustained campaign around Australia’s century of joining the US in battle, Mr Hockey’s prediction that Donald Trump would win the presidency, and having Norman’s phone number – the golfer passed on the new president’s mobile contact in the wake of the 2016 election – were his “three pieces of inspired Joe Hockey genius as ambassador”.
Mr Abbott lauded Mr Hockey as “the last great reforming treasurer of the Commonwealth of Australia” and both men defended their record on the poorly received 2014 budget.
Mr Trump’s acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney recounted a time he and Mr Hockey played golf with the president and wound up tying or winning – “depending upon who you talk to” – despite the Australian’s poor skills.
“There’s a saying that Joe fell in love with America’s rivers and streams and dense forests and sandy beaches and that was all on a golf course,” Mr Mulvaney said.
Mr Hockey said he’d spent his life trying to repay the debt he felt his family owed to Australia for the opportunities his immigrant father received.
Former Liberal senator Arthur Sinodinos will replace Mr Hockey in February.