Former prime minister Tony Abbott has reportedly been hired as a trade envoy to Britain.
The Sun newspaper is reporting that Mr Abbott has taken up a job as joint president of the country’s Board of Trade – and will be responsible for drumming up deals for Britain around the world.
The board’s role to “champion exports and inward and outward investment to deliver economic growth and prosperity”. It has traditionally been made up of British political and business figures but, according to the newspaper, British PM Boris Johnson asked Mr Abbott to join.
“We are delighted to have him on board,” a British government source told The Sun.
However, the reports have raised questions back in Australia about whether Mr Abbott will have to register as an agent of foreign influence under this country’s transparency laws.
PM Scott Morrison brushed questions about the implications on Wednesday, simply saying the appointment was a “good hire” by Mr Johnson.
“I’ll leave that for the attorney-general to sort out and I’m sure there’s paperwork for Tony to fill out. I’m sure he’ll get that done,” Mr Morrison said on Wednesday.
“But well done Boris, good hire.”
Mr Abbott, who was Australian PM from 2013-2015, is a staunch Brexit supporter.
“Brexit means that Britain is back,” he wrote in a foreword for Britain’s Free Enterprise Group in 2017.
Britain is negotiating a stack of free trade agreements, including one with Australia, after bombing out of the European Union.
Attorney-General Christian Porter said former cabinet ministers had a range of requirements under the Foreign Influence Transparency Scheme.
“It is up to each individual to determine whether or not their circumstances meets the registration requirements,” Mr Porter said.
“All former cabinet ministers and members of parliament receive information outlining registration requirements.”
The British government has not made a formal announcement about the role.