Former Labor premier Steve Bracks says his appointment as consul-general in New York has been revoked by the incoming Abbott government.

Mr Bracks was due to take up the role in the US financial capital this week.

But he issued a statement this morning saying he was informed last night of the decision by Foreign Minister-elect Julie Bishop to strip him of the role.

"The Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs informed me last night following a briefing he had with the Foreign Minister Elect, The Hon Julie Bishop, that she would be revoking my position as Australia's consul-general in New York," the statement said.

"I wish the Foreign Minister Elect every success with her new appointment for this position and I will be making no further comment at this time."

Mr Bracks says he not intends to find work in Australia's funds management sector.

He was appointed to the consul-general position in May and began working in the role in August.

Outgoing Labor minister Tanya Plibersek says the decision to strip Mr Bracks of the role is extraordinary.

"I was very disappointed to hear as the first act of an incoming foreign minister, it's both petty and vindictive," she said.

"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.

"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.

"I just think the pettiness of it is extraordinary."

Senior incoming minster Malcolm Turnbull has defended the decision.

Mr Turnbull said the Labor government's decision to appoint Mr Bracks just before the caretaker period came into effect was unprecedented.

"I think the decisions to appoint people to positions, a number of positions, including diplomatic positions, literally on the eve of the beginning of the caretaker period, with the appointment to take effect after the date of the election, or around the date of the election, was also unprecedented," he said.