Minister defends job for ex-Liberal leader

Foreign Minister Marise Payne has defended handing former Tasmanian Liberal premier Will Hodgman a plum job as Australia’s high commissioner to Singapore.

The 51-year-old was appointed to the senior diplomatic role on Sunday, joining a long list of political appointments in Washington, the UN, Chicago, New Delhi, London, New York and Ireland.

Tasmanian independent Jacqui Lambie read out the names of Mr Hodgman’s six predecessors, who were all senior Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade officials.

“Did you run out of DFAT deputy secretaries or is the Liberal Party just a deeper talent pool these days?” she asked the foreign minister.

Senator Payne said the former Tasmanian leader had put his state on the world stage in tourism and trade, giving him the necessary experience.

“Mr Hodgman is a highly, highly qualified very appropriate appointment to be Australia’s high commissioner in Singapore,” she said.

Senator Lambie asked what professional or personal relationship Mr Hodgman had with Singapore, aside from “being a mate” of the Morrison government.

Senator Payne said he had been an outstanding leader of government in Australia.

Senator Lambie also asked about selection process for the appointment but the question wasn’t clearly answered.

Labor has also been critical of handing Mr Hodgman the job, accusing the government of turning the foreign service into a Liberal retirement home.

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