A Washington memoir
By Joe Hockey, with Leo Shanahan
Published by Harper Collins
RRP $34.99 in paperback | ISBN 9781460759516
Joe Hockey served as Australia’s Ambassador to the United States for four years from January 2016, following Malcolm Turnbull’s successful challenge of then Prime Minister Tony Abbott.
Hockey had been usurped by Scott Morrison in the coveted Treasury portfolio and offered the ambassador role as a consolation prize.
He immediately found himself in the middle of the 2016 presidential campaign between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.
Despite strong objections from his own government, Hockey reached out to the Trump campaign early on. Betting on the electoral appeal of the brash, anti-establishment candidate, Hockey secured priceless early diplomatic contacts within the Trump campaign and then his administration.
There are some fascinating insider titbits in this book: inauguration balls are ‘not exactly the great occasions they’re cracked up to be’; the Secret Service black SUVs are ‘very uncomfortable’; Trump’s revised view of Malcolm Turnbull (given his earlier role as Kerry Packer’s barrister) as being ‘pretty smart because he kept Kerry Parker out of jail’, revealed on the golf course.
Hockey was the only ambassador to play golf with Trump.
There’s an entertaining titbit too about the refurbishment of the grass tennis court at the ambassador’s residence.
Of course there is much more in this book than entertaining titbits.
Hockey’s time as ambassador encompassed a tumultuous presidency, one that presented unique challenges for the US/Australia relationship.
It is interesting and informative to have the first hand perspective of the ambassador during this period.
It is by turns an entertaining, insightful and illuminating look at how vital this role is in relation to Australian economic interests.
He records this moment in history with a deft style laced with an undercurrent of self-deprecating humour that is uniquely Australian.