On 1 January 2013, Australia took up its seat on the UN Security Council (UNSC), having been elected to a two-year position as a non-permanent member of the council in 2012. By the end of June, the driver of Australia’s tilt at the UN Security Council seat — Kevin Rudd — had returned to the Lodge as Prime Minister. It was a spectacular comeback from the former leader, whose unpopularity within his own party had seemed to scupper any chances he had of returning to the role.1 The political turmoil associated with the Labor leadership was itself part of the broader federal election circus that defined the first half of 2013. Ultimately, this period was all about the election. In January, Prime Minister Julia Gillard had taken the unprecedented step of announcing a date for the federal election some eight months in advance, triggering what some described as the “world’s longest election campaign”.2 The dominance of electoral considerations in the first half of 2013 had important implications for Australian foreign policy. Confirming previous analysis that suggested Australians do not tend to vote on foreign policy issues,3 the first half of 2013 saw considerations of Australia’s place in the world and engagement with it feature even less prominently in Australian political debate than usual, despite Australia’s position on the UNSC and something of a breakthrough in relations with China. And those international issues that did feature in public debate (in particular asylum and climate change) were ultimately viewed and approached through the lens of domestic political considerations. These tendencies were crystallized with the 2013 budget, which included a delay in reaching ambitious aid targets and a stagnating budget for the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade despite increasing diplomatic activity and growing criticisms of inadequate funding. Two key themes were particularly evident in Australian foreign policy in the first half of 2013, and feature prominently in this review: the (growing) gap between ambition and resourcing of Australia’s global engagement; and the growing tendency for Australian engagement with transnational issues to be defined by domestic political considerations, potentially at the expense of key regional relationships. This review begins with Australia taking up its seat in the UNSC, and notes Gillard’s diplomatic breakthrough in China before exploring the politics of funding for Australia’s foreign and defence policy machinery and the dominance of domestic politics in Australian political and foreign policy debates.