Bill Shorten has responded to a series of comments made by Julie Bishop earlier today.
In an exclusive interview with The Sunday Times, the former foreign affairs minister, 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.
But Shorten was quick to 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.”
Despite holding the seat since 1998, Bishop revealed she will be stepping aside to allow other talented female candidates to qualify for Liberal preselection, adding that she is leaving her “beloved” seat in “very good shape”.
“I have been contacted by a number of talented, indeed extraordinary, people, including women, who have indicated to me that should I not reconsidered the seat of Curtin, they would seek preselection from the Curtin division of the Liberal Party for that seat,” she said. “Accordingly, I will not re- contest the seat of Curtin at the next election. And I will work hard in the meantime to assist a new Liberal candidates to win the seat.”
Bishop also addressed her bid for leadership last summer, adding that she is also the first female to ever contest for leadership of the party, before saying she looks forward to seeing a lot more of her “close and trusted friends” once her term is over.
She added: “I said in my first speech that I was brought up to believe that entering public office should be one of the highest callings and being able to direct your energy and abilities to the betterment of state and country is one of greatest contributions you can make. That remains my view.
“I leave this place positive about the future, proud of the service I have been able to give, to my electoral, beloved Liberal Party, state of WA and my country.”
Bishop’s resignation comes just six months after she confirmed to the ABC that she would be recontesting her seat, despite stepping down as foreign minister following her defeat in the second partyroom spill which saw Scott Morrison elected as Turnbull’s replacement.