News National Julie Bishop quits as foreign minister

Julie Bishop quits as foreign minister

julie bishop
Ms Bishop will sit on the backbench after receiving only 11 votes in the leadership spill. Photo: Getty
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Former deputy Liberal leader Julie Bishop has quit her job as minister for foreign affairs but says she will stay on as an MP.

In a statement, Ms Bishop said she had advised Prime Minister Scott Morrison of her decision.

“I will remain on the backbench as a strong voice for Western Australia,” she said.

“I have been pre-selected by the Liberal Party for the seat of Curtin and I have made no decision regarding the next election.”

Ousted prime minister Malcolm Turnbull said the nation had lost its “finest foreign minister”.

“I thank Julie for her loyalty and friendship over many years but especially as my deputy,” Mr Turnbull, who is now also a backbencher, said in a statement.

“She has been and remains an inspiring role model for women here and around the world.”

Labor’s Penny Wong paid tribute to Ms Bishop for her “trailblazing role” as Australia’s first female foreign minister.

“For five years she has dedicated her life to our nation with a tireless work ethic and exhausting travel schedule,” Ms Wong said.

“While Labor has at times been critical of the foreign policy directions under prime ministers Abbott and Turnbull, Ms Bishop’s commitment to standing up for Australia both here and abroad has never been in question.

“In particular I have deeply appreciated her commitment to bipartisanship, and her personal courtesy to me.”

Julie Bishop, Ivanka Trump, UN General Assembly New York
Julie Bishop makes the acquaintance of “delightful” Ivanka Trump during her time as foreign minister. Photo: Julie Bishop / Twitter

For more than 10 years, Ms Bishop, the West Australian lawyer with the killer stare and snappy suits, was the Liberal Party’s second in command.

She served as deputy to three leaders, watching from close proximity as each copped the knife.

The former deputy put her hand up for the Liberal leadership on Friday but received only 11 votes in the first round, leading to a showdown between Peter Dutton and Mr Morrison.

It emerged on Sunday that she never had a hope, with moderates urging each other to put their votes behind Scott Morrison to stop Peter Dutton becoming prime minister.

“[Mathias] Cormann rumoured to be putting some WA votes behind Julie Bishop in round one,” Infrastructure Minister Paul Fletcher wrote to the group on WhatsApp.

“Be aware that this is a ruse trying to get her ahead of Morrison so he drops out and his votes go to Dutton.

“Despite our hearts tugging us to Julie we need to vote with our heads for Scott in round one.”

On Sunday, the superfit 62-year-old ran in Perth’s City to Surf race before announcing she was calling time on her successful tenure as foreign minister.

bishop boris run
A daily jogger and fitness fanatic, Julia Bishop seldom skips her roadwork. Photo: AAP

She entered Parliament at the 1998 election as Perth’s member for Curtin and it’s where she opted to stay.

Though WA is her political home-ground, Ms Bishop was born to cherry farmers in Adelaide and attended the city’s St Peter’s Collegiate Girls’ School.

She studied law at Adelaide University and practised as both a solicitor and a barrister before moving to WA with her husband, property developer Neil Gillion. They later divorced but Ms Bishop stayed put.

Years later in Parliament, Labor would query Ms Bishop’s role during her legal days in defending building product company CSR from compensation claims by asbestos victims.

She claimed she only acted in accordance with her client’s instructions and on advice from some of WA’s most senior barristers.

It was in the Howard government in 2003 that Ms Bishop joined the front bench as aged care minister.

John Howard rewarded her with the education portfolio and made her responsible for women’s issues in 2006, but it was short-lived with the government falling in the November 2007 Ruddslide.

Former Education Minister Brendan Nelson was criticised for gagging academics.
Deputy to the Liberals’ then-leader Brendan Nelson, Julie Bishop retained the role under Malcolm Turnbull. Photo: AAP

She was elected deputy Liberal leader under opposition leader Brendan Nelson after the 2007 poll and was handed the shadow employment and workplace relations role.

When Mr Nelson’s leadership imploded 11 months later she remained deputy under Malcolm Turnbull and took on the shadow treasury role.

Widely considered a failure in the portfolio, she stepped aside months later and shifted to foreign affairs – a job in which she thrived.

Incoming leader Tony Abbott kept her by his side after his one-vote party room win over Turnbull in December 2009 and she kept the portfolio after Labor scraped into minority government in 2010.

As Mr Abbott shunted the train wreck that was federal Labor in 2013, Australia’s first female foreign minister faced some tough challenges.

But she reaped the benefits of Labor’s lobbying for a United Nations Security Council seat, making the most of it to tackle issues including Iran, Islamic State’s rise in Iraq and Syria and shaming Russia over the MH17 tragedy.

The families of the Malaysian Airline disaster victims appreciated her deep and ongoing interest and sympathetic response.

She undoubtedly played a key role in healing the damage caused to relations with Indonesia by Labor’s live cattle debacle, turning back boats and the Indonesian president phone tapping scandal.

At times, her profile put her ahead of Turnbull in the popularity stakes.
In a March 2017 poll by Roy Morgan, 30 per cent of people surveyed said she was their preferred Liberal Party leader, compared to 27 per cent for Turnbull and 5 per cent for Peter Dutton.

Asked in 2013 if she could withstand several terms of government as foreign minister, the reportedly indefatigable Ms Bishop was unwavering.

“Absolutely,” she said without a moment’s hesitation.

“You have to have inexhaustible supplies of energy to be a federal politician from Western Australia anyway.”

She has made no decision on whether she will stand at the next election.

Julie Bishop at a glance

  •  Born July 17, 1956 in Lobethal, South Australia
  • Divorced, but in long-term relationship with David Panton. No children
  • Often referred to as JBish
  • Known for her sharp style, steely stare and fitness, taking daily runs even when travelling overseas
  • Also renowned as a great campaigner and fundraiser within the Liberal party
  • Well regarded on the world stage and took a major role after the MH17 atrocity
  • Studied law at Adelaide University
  • Did the advanced management program at Harvard Business School
  • Managing partner at Clayton Utz law firm in Perth, 1994-1998
  • Elected as the federal member for Curtin in 1998
  • First appointed to the frontbench by John Howard in 2003 when made minister for ageing
  • Served as Education, Science and Training Minister (2006-2007)
    * Foreign Affairs Minister 2013-1018
  • Deputy Liberal leader since November 29, 2007, serving alongside Brendan Nelson, Malcolm Turnbull, Tony Abbott and Malcolm Turnbull
  • Deputy Opposition Leader 2007-2013
  • Holds the very safe Perth-based seat of Curtin with a margin of 18.2 per cent

-with AAP

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