Liberal Party frontbencher Simon Birmingham has responded to Julie Bishop’s comments she could have taken out the top position, claiming “anyone could have beaten Bill Shorten”.
Speaking on Today on Monday morning the Minister for Trade addressed Bishop’s statement saying while the former foreign affairs minister would have had a good chance at becoming prime minister, he believes others do to.
“I’m sure Julie could have beaten Bill Shorten,” he said on the Channel Nine program. “But I’m also confident that Scott Morrison will beat Bill Shorten.”
The 44-year-old went on to slam Shorten, claiming Australians are at serious risk of financial hardship should they vote for the Labor leader.
“Bill Shorten is going to the next election with more than $200 billion plus in additional taxes he wants to slug each and every one of your viewers in range of ways,” he told Today show hosts.
“So if you are a retiree, if you are a small business person, if you are somebody working hard for your retirement, the risk is you will pay more tax under Bill Shorten.”
He added: “When it comes to the crunch almost anybody could have beaten Bill Shorten”.
His comments follow claims made by Bishop over the weekend. In an exclusive interview with The Sunday Times, the politician, who announced she would not be recontesting her seat of Curtin at the upcoming federal election, said she would have defeated Shorten in the next federal election – had her colleagues picked her to lead the Liberal Party in last year’s leadership spill.
“If I had known that was what their thinking was, I could have dissuaded them of it but also I would have pointed out that the question was: Who could beat Bill Shorten?
“And I was confident that I could beat Shorten,” Bishop told The Sunday Times, according to The West Australian.
Bishop added she had felt a “responsibility” to run for the leadership position.
“And I also felt for all the women in Australia who had seen me as deputy for so long. I thought I’d be letting them down if I didn’t put my hand up,” she said.
Not long after Bishop’s comments were broadcast, Shorten hit back at her claims in an interview with Nine’s Today show, saying it was something “we’ll never know”.
Asked if she would have won the next federal election, he said: “It’s up to the Australian people but we will never know.
“Even though she was the loyal deputy for four Liberal leaders it says a lot for the way the Liberal Party treats its women MPs that she never got the chance to be the leader even though she was deputy to four leaders. This is the challenge for the Liberal Party. They have a women’s problem.”