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Bracks dumped from New York job -

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TONY EASTLEY: The former Victorian premier, Steve Bracks, was hoping he'd be in New York this week, taking up a new job as Consul General in the US financial capital.

But late yesterday the incoming Abbott Government pulled the pin on his appointment.

AM understands that Julie Bishop, the Coalition's Foreign Affairs Spokeswoman, instructed bureaucrats she would be dumping Mr Bracks.

Labor's Tanya Plibersek is the Acting Foreign Minister - at least until Tony Abbott's new Cabinet is sworn in, in a few days time.

She says the removal of Mr Bracks is a petty and vindictive act.

The Coalition has previously said it was unethical to make the appointment in the run-up to the election in the first place.

Tanya Plibersek is speaking here to AM's Simon Santow.

TANYA PLIBERSEK: Well I was alerted very late yesterday that the incoming government would be revoking Steve Bracks' appointment as the Australian Consul General to New York. I was very disappointed to hear that. I think as the first act of an incoming Foreign Minister it is both petty and vindictive.

This was an appointment announced in May, well before we went into the caretaker period, and Steve Bracks is eminently qualified to serve as Consul General. He's a respected Australian businessman, he was premier of Victoria for eight years.

The question is; who does Tony Abbott intend to send in his place?

SIMON SANTOW: Was any explanation given for why he wouldn't be taking up his appointment?


SIMON SANTOW: And did Julie Bishop herself give you a call?


SIMON SANTOW: So how was it communicated?

TANYA PLIBERSEK: Well I heard through official channels. I was contacted by the Department of Foreign Affairs.

SIMON SANTOW: I know that Julie Bishop had said as recently as a week ago that she didn't want this appointment to take place. Does she not have a right, does the incoming government not have a right to be heard in this sort of situation?

TANYA PLIBERSEK: Well, I just think the pettiness of it is extraordinary. When we came into government in 2007, Amanda Vanstone was allowed to complete her term in Italy. But even on top of that, we appointed both Tim Fischer and Brendan Nelson to represent Australia overseas. We considered that they were suitable people to do so. We acted in a bipartisan way, in the best interests of Australia.

What you hear is the incoming Government coming in, making political decisions from day one.

SIMON SANTOW: The incoming Foreign Affairs Minister, Julie Bishop, is on the record as saying that this isn't about the merit of the appointment. It's all about the ethics and a lack of consultation with the Coalition in the lead-up to the election.

TANYA PLIBERSEK: He's talking about an appointment that was made in May when we were clearly not in caretaker and this is a person who is absolutely qualified to represent Australia overseas. Not only was he Premier of Victoria from 1999 to 2007, he's held honorary positions including advising the prime minister of Timor-Leste and he's been on a range of Australian businesses, the Bionics Institute of Australia. He's been associated with La Trobe University. Very clearly, eminently qualified to fulfil this position.

TONY EASTLEY: The Acting Foreign Affairs Minister, Tanya Plibersek, speaking there to AM's Simon Santow. And we gave the incoming Abbott Government an opportunity to comment on their decision, but they declined AM's invitation.