Labor has slammed Prime Minister Tony Abbott, declaring him embarrassing for cancelling meetings with the world’s top finance officials during his visit to the United States.
Deputy opposition leader Tanya Plibersek said Mr Abbott had made a succession of missteps during his travels overseas, the latest in the US.
“Australians have to worry that he’ll be embarrassing us on the world stage,” she told reporters in Sydney.
That follows a report from political columnist Laurie Oakes on Saturday that Mr Abbott had cancelled long-planned meetings with US treasury secretary Jack Lew, International Monetary Fund head Christine Lagarde and World Bank president Jim Yong Kim.
Ms Plibersek slammed Mr Abbott as “Nigel no-friends” on the world stage, suggesting he was avoiding facing up to criticism over Australia’s lack of action in tackling climate change.
She said it was extraordinary that Mr Abbott wasn’t meeting the top economic officials at a time when Australia was preparing to host world leaders for the November G20 summit, “the most important international meeting that has ever been held on Australian soil”.
But a spokeswoman for Mr Abbott’s office said in a statement on Saturday that he was scheduled to meet Mr Lew and Janet Yellen, chair of the Board of Governors of the US Federal Reserve.
“In the United States the prime minister has a very full program of formal talks with the President (Barack) Obama and other political, policy and business leaders focusing on how we can strengthen this extraordinarily important bilateral relationship.
“The prime minister is also leading a business delegation to strengthen trade and business ties between our countries.”
The statement did not mention any planned meetings with Ms Lagarde or Dr Kim.
Treasurer Joe Hockey has previously met with the heads of the IMF and the World Bank and will hold further meetings in July, and they will attend the G20 summit in November.
Mr Abbott has said he does not want climate change to be the focus of the summit.