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21 May 2019 3:17
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  •   Home > News > International

    As Donald Trump teed off at critics, Joe Hockey grabbed his clubs and headed to Mar-a-Lago

    The Easter weekend saw Australia's ambassador to the US, Joe Hockey, make an appearance at Trump International Golf Club, club in hand, as the President let off some steam.

    Over the Easter weekend, United States President Donald Trump seemed to be having a tough time of it.

    He was swinging wildly at investigators and the media via his favourite outlet, Twitter.

    The Saturday morning coverage of the Mueller report into Russian election meddling was damning and his Democratic opponents were openly discussing the possibility of starting impeachment proceedings.

    "The Washington Post and New York Times are, in my opinion, two of the most dishonest media outlets around," he tweeted.

    "Truly, the Enemy of the People."

    At 9:04am he arrived at one of his favourite weekend escapes, the Trump International Golf Club in Florida, which is just a short drive from his Mar-a-Lago resort — the so-called winter White House.

    The media outlets that follow the President around the nation were not able to track Mr Trump's movements from their vantage point at a nearby library.

    The President's partners for his usual Saturday round also weren't announced to the press.

    But Australian ambassador Joe Hockey, apparently an enthusiastic but unaccomplished golfer, was there with his clubs and had a hit, missing Easter with his family as a result.

    All roads lead to Palm Beach, Florida

    He posted two Instagram snaps of his trip down south from Washington DC.

    The first showed a Palm Beach-branded placemat — the second was a selfie with the words:

    "All Florida roads lead to …. #maralago #palmbeach #australia."

    An embassy spokesperson declined to provide details of his interaction with the Commander in Chief, except to say: "We are not willing to provide a running commentary on conversations with the administration or golf partners."

    The current federal election and the ongoing push by other nations to get access to Australia's exclusive E-3 visa class seem likely topics for the ambassador to raise.

    Access is everything in the Trump White House

    It's at least the second time Mr Trump and Tony Abbott's former treasurer have caught up at a golf club together.

    Some casual observers might complain the sport is not the best use of taxpayer's cash, but it's the sort of access DC's diplomatic community is desperate for.

    US outlet Politico has previously reported that the ambassador is the only foreign leader or diplomat, aside from Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, to have played with the President.

    The article quoted an unnamed senior government source:

    "Some ambassadors in Europe have begged me to tell them what they need to do to nail a golfing opportunity with President Trump, even for one hole."

    That's because this administration has shaken up the way things operate in Washington.

    Normal diplomatic protocols and niceties are not always observed.

    In the White House itself, key staff have changed often.

    The President also sometimes ignores advice from advisers and goes with his gut, meaning there's nothing quite as valuable as time by his side to make a case.

    With polls suggesting a Labor government could be elected next month, there's speculation in Washington about who could replace Mr Hockey when his term expires.

    Stephen Conroy, the former communications minister, and Stephen Smith, the former defence minister, are two names being spoken about.

    Perhaps they should start practising their swing.

    © 2019 ABC Australian Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved

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