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Liberal powerbroker Nick Minchin appointed consul-general to New York

Former senator Nick Minchin has been appointed consul-general to New York.

Former senator Nick Minchin has been appointed consul-general to New York. Photo: David Mariuz

Howard-era finance minister Nick Minchin has been appointed to replace former Victorian premier Steve Bracks as consul-general in New York.

The appointment, first flagged by Fairfax Media in September last year, comes after Mr Bracks was dumped from the role as one of the first acts of the then incoming Coalition government.

Then incoming Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop instructed Department of Foreign Affairs secretary Peter Varghese to sack Mr Bracks after the Coalition won the election in September and days before the former premier had been due to fly out to take up his role.

In a statement announcing Mr Minchin's appointment on Friday, Ms Bishop said given the size of New York's financial sector, a primary role of the consul-general is to influence individuals and companies in business and politics.

Ms Bishop said the former Howard cabinet minister is expected to take up the role in April.

Mr Minchin, 60, was a senator from South Australia from 1993 to 2011 and held several posts in the Howard government, including finance minister. He was instrumental in the then Coalition opposition changing its stance on supporting an emissions trading scheme proposed by the then Rudd government.

He has been contacted for comment.

Mr Bracks issued a statement this morning wishing Mr Minchin every success.

Mr Bracks said he was immensely enjoying his roles on superannuation fund Cbus, as adviser to East Timor’s Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao, and several board positions.

''I am pleased the important post of Australian consul-general to New York has now been filled, and I am sure Nick Minchin will represent Australia effectively in the world's financial capital,'' Mr Bracks said.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said the appointment of Mr Minchin showed the Coalition government’s jobs priorities were wrong.

''The Abbott government will fight for Liberal politicians - they just won’t fight for ordinary people,'' he told reporters in Perth. The government had ''ripped up the rule book'' with the appointment of Mr Minchin.

Mr Bracks, who had relinquished several positions, was appointed in May last year by former prime minister Julia Gillard. Ms Bishop criticised the decision at the time as inappropriate because of its proximity to the election.

Ms Bishop was particularly concerned that she was not consulted about the appointment given the election was only a few months away. She is believed to have been unimpressed that Mr Bracks made no attempt to contact her.

When asked about his possible appointment in September, Mr Minchin said it was ''arrogant in the extreme'' for Labor to have appointed Mr Bracks in the first place.

''I've got no comment about me in relation to any role with respect to the new government,'' he told Sky News at the time.

Mr Bracks said in a statement after his sacking that he had officially started in the role in August and had spent the past month consulting business and government leaders.

''I was pleased with the support I received during these consultations, where there was significant recognition of my background as premier of Victoria for eight years and as one of Australia's leaders in the funds management industry for the last six years,'' he said.

Labor's decision to appoint Mr Bracks  sparked immediate controversy. Incoming attorney-general George Brandis said Labor had given Mr Bracks the job as ''a gift'', suggesting he lacked qualifications for the role.

''Mr Bracks has no obvious credentials for that job,'' Senator Brandis told Sky News.

Outgoing special minister of state Mark Dreyfus accused the Coalition of misunderstanding the caretaker conventions. ''Mr Bracks was appointed on 16 May, 2013, that is, more than 11 weeks before the start of the caretaker conventions,'' he said.

Josh Gordon, Daniel Flitton and Adrian Lowe

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  • Even after they leave parliament, you can't keep the conservative snouts out of the trough.

    Date and time
    February 14, 2014, 7:36AM
    • What an insightful comment!! Presumably all the Labor ex-MPs go back to a factory floor as shop stewards.

      Date and time
      February 14, 2014, 8:06AM
    • Well, they do have to pay back the king maker don't they? However, there is a no less deserving indivdual for a job like this than Nick Minchin.

      Date and time
      February 14, 2014, 8:07AM
    • Even after they leave parliament, you can't keep the Labor snouts out of the trough. Minchin is replacing Bracks -- same trough, change of guard.

      Move on -- nothing to see.

      Balanced View
      Date and time
      February 14, 2014, 8:08AM
    • somebody call the waaambulance

      Date and time
      February 14, 2014, 8:11AM
    • Bit like the ALP and their union mates eh. Let's face it they are all tarred with the same brush.

      Date and time
      February 14, 2014, 8:13AM
    • Just making right the errors of the previous rabble.

      Date and time
      February 14, 2014, 8:20AM
    • BillR , Minchin will be welcomed in America with open arms... by the Tea Party Republicans.

      Date and time
      February 14, 2014, 8:21AM
    • New York isn't too far from Washington. He can have lunch with Kim Beasley who was appointed the Australian Ambassador to the USA by the previous ALP government

      Date and time
      February 14, 2014, 8:22AM
    • Nope. Both Labor and Liberals do it. Shouldn't come as a surprise to any one. Rudd appointed Beazley as Australia's Ambassador to the United States of America.

      Sarah of Carnegie
      Date and time
      February 14, 2014, 8:27AM

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