The Liberal leadership is shaping up to be a three-horse race with Julie Bishop set to make a run for the top job.
Bishop has her sights firmly set on becoming Australia’s next prime minister, after having reportedly vowed not to come off as second-best any more, and a News Corp poll indicates she is the preferred leader of the Liberal Party.
There has been growing pressure on Bishop to declare herself as the third candidate to become prime minister, with members of cabinet strongly encouraging her to run, according to several reports.
In her pitch to colleagues, she told them she won’t be “another man’s deputy”, The Australian reported. Her partner, David Panton, on Thursday night backed her to claim the leadership, telling the Herald Sun “by tomorrow at lunchtime, Julie Bishop will definitely be prime minister”.
Bishop has served as the Member for Curtin in the House of Representatives since 1998. She was sworn in as Australia’s first female Foreign Minister on 18 September 2013 following four years in the role of Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade.
The other candidates contesting to replace Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull are former home affairs minister Peter Dutton and Treasurer Scott Morrison.
Meanwhile, the prime minister’s office confirmed a party room meeting would go ahead at about midday on Friday. The Australian reported late Thursday night Dutton had reached the 43 signatures required to call for a leadership spill.
Turnbull indicated on Thursday he would step aside if the majority of the Liberal party room signed a petition for a spill. If passed, Turnbull admitted he would not then stand against Dutton, or anyone else with ambitions for the top job, and would bring an end to his political career.
“In terms of my own intentions,” he said. “When the party room meeting is called, I will invite a spill motion to be moved. If it is carried I will not stand as a candidate in the ballot. Those are the events that will unfold over the next few days.”
Making a thinly veiled dig at former PM, and his predecessor, Tony Abbott, he added: “I believe former prime ministers are best out of parliament, I don’t think there’s much evidence to suggest that conclusion is not correct.”