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Australian politicians ‘no better than schoolchildren’, says Julie Bishop

Her counterparts overseas have asked her what happened to the prime minister. Photo: ABC News/Matt Roberts
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Many world leaders view Australia as the coup capital of the world, ex-foreign minister Julie Bishop has warned.

In a candid interview with Nine’s 60 Minutes on Sunday night, Ms Bishop, Australia’s first female foreign minister, said the latest leadership spill cemented Australia’s deplorable reputation as an unstable government.

The backbencher said many of her counterparts have made “some rather unkind comments about Australia being the Italy of the South Pacific and the coup capital of the world”.

She said it was difficult to answer why there was a new prime minister.

“I’ve had many calls from my counterpart foreign ministers who are very politely asking why I am no longer the foreign minister and what happened to the prime minister,” she said.

In the preamble to the interview, journalist Chris Uhlmann said there had been a “catastrophic loss of faith in democracy” in the last decade, with the “chaotic state of federal politics” largely to blame.

Uhlmann cited a survey conducted at the end of the Howard era in 2007, which showed 85 per cent of people were satisfied with the way democracy worked in Australia.

That number has more than halved to 42 per cent, in a decade in which Australia witnessed four prime ministers being axed by their own party.

Ms Bishop also condemned the “vicious behaviour” of politicians during Question Time, which she said “does more damage to the reputation of the political class than any other issue”.

“There’s far too much throwing of insults and vicious behaviour, name-calling and the like.

“And the public see that as no better than schoolchildren. In fact, not as well behaved as schoolchildren,” Ms Bishop said.

She also renewed her call to have gender targets in the Liberal Party.

“I believe that targets are an appropriate mechanism. It’s not the only mechanism but I have seen it work elsewhere,” Ms Bishop said.

The former deputy leader of the Liberal Party also said Cabinet discussions were different when more women were featured.

“I have been in a Cabinet where I was the only female and then five female colleagues joined me and they were vastly different discussions and debates,” she said.

-with AAP

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