Hockey lands on feet with top US ambassador job

FORMER Treasurer Joe Hockey will soon be hobnobbing in Washington DC, having secured the top diplomatic posting of ambassador to the US.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop announced on Tuesday that Mr Hockey would replace former Labor leader Kim Beazley in the plum job.

Key areas for Mr Hockey's attention include Australia's contribution to the US-led attacks on IS in Iraq and Syria, and diplomatic talks as the transfer of global economic power from the US to China continues amid wider debate over contested islands in the South China Sea.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull described Mr Hockey as a passionate patriot and "one of the most engaging, persuasive people" he had known in public life.

Labor frontbencher Brendan O'Connor said Mr Turnbull had only weeks ago torn down Mr Hockey and former PM Tony Abbott, and he was concerned Mr Hockey and Mr Turnbull's relationship be "a reasonable one" given the importance of the US-Australia relationship.

Ms Bishop thanked Mr Beazley for his "significant contribution to advancing Australia's interests since 2010" and said Mr Hockey would take up the role early next year.