GARY ADSHEAD: One of the people at the centre of what took place in the last 24 hours was West Australian Minister, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop. She joins me.
Thanks for your time today Minister.
JULIE BISHOP: Good morning Gary, good to be with you.
GARY ADSHEAD: When did you first get involved in this coup?
JULIE BISHOP: I didn’t get involved. I certainly was not counting numbers. I was not contacting anyone. What happened is over recent days it became obvious to me from conversations that people had with me, colleagues who were coming to see me, that Tony had lost the confidence of more than half the Party Room and as deputy, I believe it is my duty to bring this information to his attention. So I saw Tony and told him what people had told me and he knew the options available to him. I certainly didn’t ask him to stand aside and he then called a Party Room meeting and a ballot so that the Party Room could determine who their leader would be and they voted by a majority for Malcolm Turnbull and that is the view that they had expressed to me and that I had passed on to the Prime Minister.
GARY ADSHEAD: Was what happened yesterday anything to do with the Canning by-election in terms of shoring up a win for the Liberals by a greater margin?
JULIE BISHOP: Well without doubt more than half the Party Room felt that the party needed a new leader and thus a new direction and the timing of it is unfortunate. It’s never good, it’s never a good time to change leader, but when the numbers are there, when the party was telling me, the Deputy, that they wanted to have a vote for the leader, my duty, my obligation is to inform him of that.
The fact is the party did act in February in a rather dramatic way to voice its disapproval, you will recall there was a spill motion at the time, no one mounted a challenge against Tony Abbott at that time. He asked for six months to turn things around and was given that time, but unfortunately in the view of more than half the Party Room things did not improve.
It’s simplistic to say it was driven by the polls, but the fact is that they were a significant factor in it, but people were also influenced by a range of other factors and there was great reluctance to take the step, everybody was urging Tony to succeed, it was certainly my most sincere wish that he was able to turn things around, but that didn’t happen. So now we have a new leader and Malcolm’s message is one of hope and opportunity and a very positive, inclusive message that we want to unite our party room, unite the Australian people and ensure that the opportunities that are available in this country are as available for as many people as possible.
In Canning, I say to the people of Canning that you have the opportunity to elect an extraordinarily good local member in Andrew Hastie. The Canning by-election is not about changing the government because the Coalition remains in Government. Yes, we have a different leader, but for the people of Canning they have an opportunity to elect someone who will truly put their interests at heart and who has fought for his country and has proven that he can fight for ideals and values and beliefs and he will do that for the people of Canning.
GARY ADSHEAD: Did Mr Abbott realise? He’s fairly astute when it comes to understanding the political whims. Did he not understand that his time was up?
JULIE BISHOP: Well that’s presumably why so many people came to see me about it. He had asked for six months, seven months had now passed and the majority of the Party Room didn’t feel that there would be any different outcome if things continued, so they wanted to have their say as to who should lead the party. And we have a parliamentary system, it’s not a presidential system, the fact is the Party Room chooses the leader of that party and if you’re in opposition that person becomes the leader of the Opposition, if you’re in Government that person becomes the Prime Minister and that’s what happened yesterday.
GARY ADSHEAD: Is 54-44 enough to end any disunity?
JULIE BISHOP: It’s a strong endorsement of Malcom Turnbull, but I also think the vote for me as Deputy is relevant. 70 of my colleagues supported my ongoing role as Deputy, so I think they understood that I had to bring these matters to the attention of the Leader and I did that, and the party want me to continue in this role and I’m honoured to do so.
GARY ADSHEAD: Why will Malcom Turnbull be a better Prime Minister, Minister?
JULIE BISHOP: He’s a very powerful advocate for the values and principles that will make Australia a great country. We firmly believe that the best days of Australia lie ahead of us and we want hope and I think Malcom has the passion, the energy, the intellect, the life experience to bring all that to bear in the prime ministership of this country and make people proud to be Australians, make them want to succeed as much as our country should succeed.
GARY ADSHEAD: Did you ever think that people would now be able to say that when it comes to treachery, the Libs are no better than Labor?
JULIE BISHOP: I’m well aware of the parallels that will be drawn. The difference is that the party acted seven months ago, so the Australian people knew that there was a significant number of people in the Liberal Party Room who were not happy with the leadership of the party and wanted to see change. Over time, that didn’t improve, the numbers of those who were unhappy increased, and I think the Australian people have seen that and certainly the polls have reflected that.
GARY ADSHEAD: And when do you expect that we’ll see the announcement of a reshuffle?
JULIE BISHOP: I believe that Malcolm will do that by the end of this week, he’s consulting widely, he’s talking to his colleagues, we’ve had a meeting of the leadership team this morning, he’s continuing to talk with people and I assume that he will be ready by the end of the week to announce a new Cabinet and then we will continue to focus on policies, on reform, on making this an even better country in which to live.
GARY ADSHEAD: Just finally, what do you say to the people who will go ‘well both sides, it’s all about self-serving survival’?
JULIE BISHOP: It’s about the people of Australia, it’s about ensuring that we have the best leader, the best policies that reflect the interests of the Australian people, and the majority of our Party Room felt that we weren’t delivering that for the Australian people and believed that under a new leader that focus could be, and will be, and must be on the interests of the Australian public.
GARY ADSHEAD: And you don’t think the Australian public should have been the ones to make the decision?
JULIE BISHOP: Well the Australian public get to elect a person as their member, and the people of Canning get to elect hopefully Andrew Hastie on Saturday. There are 150 Members of the House of Representatives and each one represents an electorate and the electorate vote for that person. The party room of the winning parties makes a decision as to who will be the leader and the Australian people have seen changes of leader at a state and territory and federal level on a number of occasions in the past few years. What we must ensure is that the values and principles and policies that are in the interests of the Australian people can not only be explained to them, but also delivered for them.
GARY ADSHEAD: Minister, thanks very much for your time today.
JULIE BISHOP: Thanks Gary.
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