Prime Minister Scott Morrison decided to announce a major potential pivot in Middle East policy without taking the idea to cabinet or seeking advice from the Department of Foreign Affairs.
Mr Morrison also made the swift decision to consider shifting the n embassy in Israel to Jerusalem without consulting Defence or his own Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet.
The unusual chain of events has been laid bare during several days of Senate estimates hearings.
Mr Morrison also confirmed was reconsidering its support for the Iran nuclear deal.
The announcement came days before a crucial by-election in the Sydney seat of Wentworth, where about 12.5 per cent of voters are Jewish.
More than a week on, the prime minister is refusing to back down, arguing his government was merely considering the politically-charged issues.
“I don’t resile from that,” Mr Morrison told parliament on Thursday.
He first flagged the planned announcement with Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne over the phone on Sunday October 14, less than 48 hours before going public.
The government’s leadership team agreed to his plan the following morning and it was then run past cabinet colleagues.
The Department of Foreign Affairs was not consulted about the policy shifts, and did not provide a brief to government.
Frances Adamson, who heads the department, first learned of the planned announcement on the afternoon before it was made.
She immediately called together the department’s Middle East branch, which swiftly swung into action.
Her staff provided advice to the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet and prepared a list of countries to be briefed.
Senior bureaucrats then hit the phones, calling between 10 and 20 countries to inform them of the pending announcement.
Officials from Indonesia – the world’s largest Muslim nation and a crucial trading partner – were briefed in Canberra and Jakarta last Monday night.
A late-night string of angry text messages from the Indonesian foreign minister to Senator Payne was the first direct contact between the two over the controversial announcement.
‘s most senior military commanders were not told of the major Middle East policy shifts until after the media was briefed.
Defence Chief Angus Campbell concedes he would have preferred it were the other way round.
Senior Defence officials learned about the planned announcement last Monday afternoon, but operational commanders in the field were not informed until the following day, after the proposal was front page news.
On Thursday, Senator Payne repeatedly insisted the announcements on Israel and Iran were not changes in policy.
“I reject the assertion it is a change of policy – it is a review,” she told a Senate estimates hearing in Canberra.