Abbott accepts ScoMo’s job offer in indigenous affairs

TONY Abbott will accept a job offer from Scott Morrison to become a special envoy on indigenous affairs - with the personal ambition of lifting school attendance rates and improving academic performance.

In an interview with The Daily Telegraph, Mr Abbott said he will also encourage the Federal Government to consider tougher penalties for indigenous parents who do not send their children to school along with ways to attract talented teachers to remote communities.

Mr Abbott yesterday wrote to the Prime Minister to tell him he will enthusiastically accept the role, but has made recommendations about how it should work.

Tony Abbott has enthusiastically accepted Scott Morrison’s job offer. Picture: AAP
Tony Abbott has enthusiastically accepted Scott Morrison’s job offer. Picture: AAP

It comes as new polling reveals the Liberal Party could lose the Wentworth by-election to an independent candidate after its primary vote plunged from 62 to 39 per cent in the wake of Malcolm Turnbull's retirement.

"What I expect to be asked to do is to make recommendations on how we can improve remote area education, in particular, how we can improve attendance rates and school performance because this is the absolute key to a better future for indigenous kids and this is the key to reconciliation," he said.

"Frankly by far the best way to start is to ensure indigenous kids get at least as good an education as every other Australian, in English, so they are capable of cherishing not just their own culture but being part of the great Australian mainstream."

Mr Abbott, who has made annual visits to indigenous communities since his time in opposition, said he will know the government is "making a difference when the kids go to school, the adults go to work and communities are safe."

On Sunday night, when Mr Morrison first raised the prospect of being special envoy to the prime minister in the area of indigenous affairs, Mr Abbott was concerned with how the role would practically work when there was already a dedicated minister and many others involved in setting policy in this space.