Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop and Prime Minister Tony Abbott pictured addressing the media after the executions of Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran early on Wednesday morning. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen Mr Abbott spoke with Ms Bishop several times throughout the night. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen
Shanghai night field

Ms Bishop and Mr Abbott arriving for the press conference. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

Australia has announced it is withdrawing its ambassador to Indonesia after the executions. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

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Prime Minister Tony Abbott arrived in Canberra at about midnight on Tuesday knowing two Australians would soon be executed.

After ten years on death row, legal appeals, ministerial and consular lobbying and a parliamentary motion it became clear on Saturday, Anzac Day, that Indonesia intended to proceed with the executions.

Mr Abbott had only just touched down in Australia from France where he had stopped for meetings with President Francois Hollande after a trip to Turkey to commemorate the centenary of the Anzac landing.

At the forefront of his mind throughout the journey was the fate of Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran and he discussed their plight with Mr Hollande.

Immediately after Mr Abbott arrived in Canberra he was briefed and went home but spoke with Ms Bishop several times throughout the night.

He arrived at Parliament House in the early hours of the morning.

Ms Bishop worked throughout the night, the culmination of months of work trying to save the lives of Chan and Sukumaran.

Despite being in Europe for the weekend Ms Bishop had not stopped making representations on behalf of the pair.

She finally reached her Indonesian counterpart, Retno Marsudi, on Sunday night from the Dubai airport as she made the journey back to Australia.

It was the last conversation the pair had.

It is usually defence ministers who have the solemn duty of informing Australians that one of their countrymen or women has been killed overseas.

On Wednesday it was Mr Abbott’s and Ms Bishop’s job.

“Just after 3.30am Canberra time I received notification of reports of gunfire from Cilacap prison,” Ms Bishop said at an early morning press conference on Wednesday.

“Our ambassador and our previous ambassador and our consular staff have been working around the clock.

“I have been on the telephone talking to our ambassador, talking to officials but my last telephone conversation with my counterpart was on Sunday.”

Ms Bishop spoke with the families of both men.

Much of the discussions between Mr Abbott and Ms Bishop revolved around the government’s response and how strong it would be.

Mr Abbott’s and Ms Bishop’s offices had been receiving calls for comment since 3.30am and they waited in vain for official notification of the deaths from the Indonesian government.

It became clear they could not wait any longer.

At 6.55am a media alert was issue for a press conference at 7.30am.

By the time they began to speak it had been four hours since the men died.

Ms Bishop has been in regular contact with the families and taken the men’s situation to heart.

Although she went to pains to stress on Wednesday morning that the Indonesian’s decision was “not personal” it clearly was.

“I don’t want to personalise it but, obviously, I do regret that while my representations have  been listened to patiently and courteously, they have not been heeded,” Ms Bishop said.

The sadness on the faces of both politicians well versed in the art of poker faces was clear for all to see.

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