Tony Abbott accepts Indigenous envoy role after Liberal leadership coup
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Tony Abbott accepts Indigenous envoy role after Liberal leadership coup

Aboriginal leaders are furious at the appointment of former prime minister Tony Abbott to a newly-created Indigenous role, but Scott Morrison insists he is just the right man for the job.

Mr Abbott was given the role of special envoy for Indigenous Affairs after being left out of the new Prime Minister's ministry, in an effort to heal the wounds of last week's damaging leadership coup.

Mr Abbott cautiously accepted the job after hesitating at first, and expects to make recommendations on improving education in remote areas.

"I've been to a lot of remote schools over the years," Mr Abbott said.

"We need to get attendance up and standards up because there is no better thing we can do for kids than ensuring that they've got the best possible schooling."

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Rod Little, co-chair of the National Congress of Australia's First Peoples, said Mr Abbott had a poor record on Indigenous Affairs as prime minister.

Mr Little said work to improve education, employment, health and other outcomes for first Australians did not involve nearly enough consultation during Mr Abbott's time in the top job.

"There wasn't enough conversations with communities on the ground to listen to their needs and work out solutions and work with them," he told ABC radio on Wednesday.

"We certainly don't have any faith or hope in that this envoy and this role will make the slightest bit of difference."

Former prime minister Tony Abbott during his visit to the Gunyangara community, North East Arnhem Land, in 2014.

Former prime minister Tony Abbott during his visit to the Gunyangara community, North East Arnhem Land, in 2014.Credit:Alex Ellinghausen

However, Mr Morrison said he had travelled with Mr Abbott to remote communities and experienced his passion first-hand.

"I know how passionate Tony Abbott is about changing generationally the life circumstances for Indigenous Australians," he told reporters in Sydney.

"When you focus on the outcomes, which I know is what Tony is doing, that makes him the right person."

Both as prime minister and as a minister, Mr Abbott spent one week each year in remote Indigenous communities.

Mr Morrison also counts Indigenous education rates among his own personal passions.

"What more important job could there be than that for those Indigenous young people," he said.

The federal opposition has called into question Mr Abbott's record on Indigenous Affairs.

"This is a person who as prime minister cut hundreds of millions of dollars out of Indigenous funding, who famously said living in remote communities was a lifestyle choice," Labor frontbencher Richard Marles said.

"This is an attempt to throw a bone to Tony Abbott and hopefully make him happy, given the destruction that's been caused to the Liberal Party over the last 10 days."

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said Mr Abbott had been a disappointment to Indigenous Australians and needed to prove he was genuine in the new role.

"If they want a reset on treating first Australians with some degree of decency, Mr Abbott and Mr Morrison need to reverse their cuts to remote housing," Mr Shorten told reporters in Perth.

AAP