Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop says a photograph showing the head of Australia's international spy agency in a fist-pumping pose with the president of the Philippines was not the Australian's idea.

Bishop told reporters in Perth on Thursday that she believes Nick Warner was "responding to a request from the president of the Philippines" when the photograph was taken at Manila's presidential palace on Tuesday. The photo shows Warner and Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte facing the camera, both making Duterte's signature fist-pump hand gesture.

The photo has been criticized for suggesting support for Duterte, whose war on illegal drugs has resulted in the deaths of thousands of suspects, including more than 3,200 gunned down by police.