Julie Bishop has given a passionate and damning speech branding her parliamentary colleagues’ recent behaviour as “appalling”, as she made her first public address since resigning as foreign minister.
The former deputy leader of the Liberal party spoke at Women’s Weekly magazine’s Women of the Future awards on Wednesday to slam the falling number of female politicians in Australia, claiming it’s “not acceptable” that less than a quarter of Liberal MPs are currently women.
According to multiple reports, Bishop didn’t address the leadership spill directly but insisted it called for a “much broader debate about workplace culture” including “allegations of bullying, harassment and coercion and the unequal treatment of women.”
Bishop, 62, went on to make one of her boldest statements yet about being a woman in politics today, calling for a major review of how women are treated in all parties.
“It’s not acceptable for our party to contribute to the fall in Australia’s ratings from 15th in the world in terms of female parliamentary representation in 1999 to 50th today. There’s a lot to be done,” she said.
“Our party, in fact all parties, recognise they have a problem in attracting and maintaining women, diversity in general… When a feisty, amazing woman like Julia Banks says this environment is not for me, don’t say ‘toughen up princess’, say ‘enough is enough’.”
She went on to reflect on her past career in law and slammed the recent antics in Canberra, adding: “I have seen and witnessed and experienced some appalling behaviour in Parliament, the kind of behaviour that 20 years ago when I was managing partner of a law firm of 200 employees I would never have accepted.
“Yet in Parliament it’s the norm.”
According to the ABC, Bishop even hinted at her failed attempt at taking over leadership of the Liberal party, as she added at the awards ceremony: “The events surrounding the leadership change will be discussed, and debated and dissected for years to come… I’m just sitting back wondering ‘gee what will I do when I grow up’.”
Bishop’s comments come after the leadership spill which saw her end her 11-year reign as deputy Liberal leader and five years as foreign minister.
She had originally denied she would run for the job but, following Turnbull’s announcement that he would not contest a second challenge if a spill motion passed, she opted to stand against Peter Dutton and former Treasurer Scott Morrison. Following her failed bid, Bishop made the decision to give up her ministerial duties.
The politician fought back tears shortly after resigning when she spoke to reporters outside of Parliament House, explaining that she felt “optimistic about her future”. During that speech, she admitted the recent spill left her and others “personally devastated”.