Former Australian government minister named ambassador to US

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CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — A former senior government colleague of Australia's recently ousted prime minister was named on Tuesday as the next Australian ambassador to the United States.

Joe Hockey was treasurer during Prime Minister Tony Abbott's two years in office. Hockey announced he was quitting politics after Abbott was replaced by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull in a surprise leadership ballot of government lawmakers in September.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said on Tuesday that the 50-year-old former lawyer would take up his Washington post early next year.

"Our alliance with the United Sates is the bedrock of foreign and defense policy and we are working closely together on shared regional and global security, strategic and economic interests," Bishop said in a statement.

Hockey's failure to sell his government's economic policies was widely blamed for the administration's poor opinion polling that prompted a revolt against Abbott's leadership. Abbott had resisted pressure from colleagues to replace Hockey, who was among Abbott's staunchest allies. Turnbull's administration now leads the center-left opposition Labor party in polling.

Hockey replaces Kim Beazley, a former government minister and Labor Party leader who has served as ambassador since 2010.

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