It wasn’t so long ago that Julie Bishop was one of three people in contention to be the next prime minister of Australia, but today she announced she won’t contest the next election.
She said she made the move to reconsider her position after deciding the government can win the next election.
Her departure will see the Liberal party lose its most high-profile woman and arguably most experienced minister, and comes just weeks after Kelly O’Dwyer announced she would not contest the next election.
“I will leave this place, positive about the future, proud of the service I have been able to give, to my electorate of Curtin, my beloved Liberal party, my state of Western Australia, and my country,” she said in Parliament this afternoon.
Bishop made a quick exit following her speech, hugging a number of people on her way out, and did not remain in the chamber to hear Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s tribute to her work.
She’s been in politics since she won the Perth seat of Curtin in 1998, and served half her political career as deputy leader of the Liberal Party, the first woman to take on the position. She’s been on the backbench since losing the Liberal leadership spill in August.
“I am also proud of the fact that I am the first woman to contest a leadership ballot of the Liberal Party in its 75-year history,” Bishop said while announcing the decision in Parliament this afternoon.
Bishop revealed that a number of people, including women, have contacted her, interested in taking her place as the Liberal candidate in Curtin.
“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.”
She said she’s proud that her successor to her role as foreign minister, Senator Marise Payne, is the second female foreign minister in Australia.
Thank you @JulieBishopMP for your service to our nation and our Party and, above all, your friendship over so many years. You have been our finest Foreign Minister – eloquent, elegant and always courageous advancing our national interest in these challenging times.
— Malcolm Turnbull (@TurnbullMalcolm) February 21, 2019
And she noted her first speech in November 1998 where she stated: “I was brought up to believe that entering public office should be one of the highest callings and that being able to direct your energies and abilities to the betterment of your state or your country was one of the greatest contributions you could make.”
“And that I had always had an intense conviction that an individual can make a difference to the life of the times.”
“That remains my view. I also set out a goal in that speech, to represent the people of Curtin with all the vigor and courage and ability that I had to offer, with honesty, decency, and above all, to put their interests above my own.”
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Bishop’s “successor will have big shoes to fill”. “Julie Bishop is a giant of the Liberal Party and she has been a ground breaker for women in public life,” he said. “Julie has been a good friend. I have valued her judgement, appreciated her insight and admired the tireless way she has served the Party, the Parliament and Australia.
Opposition leader Bill Shorten paid tribute to Bishop’s authenticity, her “steely determination in international forums” and the strength she showed in front of the Russians and other people. He spoke about her “calm and composure and kindness” that he witnessed first hand after 38 Australians were killed in the flight MH-17 attack. Morrison also declared Bishop’s work in the days after the tragedy as a great achievement.