The new Australian foreign minister was on the run all week in New York, undertaking meetings and the like but had little time for reporters.
Source:
AAP
28 Sep 2013 - 2:54 PM  UPDATED 28 Sep 2013 - 3:08 PM

It's probably fortunate Julie Bishop is a dedicated, six kilometre-a-day jogger.

The new Australian foreign minister was on the run all week in New York, undertaking bilateral meetings with other leaders at the United Nations, helming the Security Council for Australia and finishing with a General Assembly address urging trade liberalisation and action on Syria.

And she showed impressive footwork, racing to dozens of photo opportunities with world leaders such as America's president Barack Obama, secretary of state John Kerry and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

But at the same time, Ms Bishop sidestepped opportunities to talk to the world media about almost everything, including a moment of real global triumph for Australia when a landmark small arms resolution passed under the country's watch in the Security Council.

When she did speak, early in her UN visit for Leaders' Week during a nine-minute bail-up by Australian journalists outside a midtown Manhattan hotel, she couldn't explain away comments from her Indonesian counterpart Dr Marty Natalegawa about their meeting the day before.

In no uncertain terms, the Indonesians had set out their objections to the Abbott government's policy on asylum seekers.

After that exchange she seemed to shut up shop.

In the interim, Indonesia released a statement exposing the details of the meeting.

This prompted former foreign minister Alexander Downer to call on Dr Natalegawa to stop taking pot shots at the new federal government; then tragically, a refugee boat en route to Australia on Friday sank, killing at least 22 people.

Alas, Bishop's aides said she was too busy bouncing from meeting to meeting to say anything.

Even when the pace slackened a little on her last day, potential opportunities to reflect on the issues and a hectic, no doubt successful first week as Australia's foreign minister were declined.

In part, it was explained, this was because it was only Australian reporters seeking face time and there would be no television cameras on hand.

By the time Australia's Ambassador to the UN Gary Quinlan was chairing the Security Council's debate and historic vote to pass the resolution to secure and destroy Syria's chemical weapons, concluding a remarkable week at the UN, Ms Bishop was running to catch a plane.

Next stop: Jakarta, where along with Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Immigration Minister Scott Morrison, Ms Bishop will attempt to convince the Indonesian leadership about Australia's policy to turn back the refugee boats, returning the asylum seekers to Indonesia.

It seems unlikely Australia's new government will have anywhere to hide when questions about a central plank of the coalition's election policy come under scrutiny there.

While Ms Bishop has remained relatively silent this week, one of the most enthusiastic communicators in Australian politics, displaced prime minister Kevin Rudd, has apparently opted to keep his opinions to himself about UN events and Australia's chairing of the Security Council - an honour only made possible because of his determination in 2008 to vie for a non-permanent seat in the council.

Mr Rudd was in New York to be named an "Eminent Person" by the UN body, the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Organisation (CTBTO).

However, as this reporter and a colleague waited in a UN Mission for him to emerge from a luncheon to talk about the appointment, the work of the CTBTO and perhaps reflect on Australia's performance in the Security Council, the former PM disappeared swiftly into the crowded Manhattan streets.

At least he didn't run.