DAVID KOCH: Joining us now from Canberra is Deputy Leader Julie Bishop. Good morning to you.
What made you turn on Tony Abbott and what did he say when you went to have a chat with him?
JULIE BISHOP: Good morning Kochie, good morning Sam. This was a very difficult decision for the Liberal Party and for me personally. I became aware over recent days that a majority of the Party Room had lost confidence in Tony's leadership and they gave me information that I believed I needed to inform the Prime Minister of that information. So I went to see Tony and I informed him that he had lost the confidence of over half of his Cabinet and over half of the Party Room.
Tony knew the options that were available to him and he took the act of calling for a Party Room Meeting and a spill of all positions. The Party Room voted in Malcolm Turnbull as the leader. It was my responsibility as the deputy to inform the leader of that information.
DAVID KOCH: So, did he have your confidence? Were you one of the more than half that had lost confidence in him?
JULIE BISHOP: I was deeply concerned at the despair within the Party Room. I was concerned by the fact that the Prime Minister had asked for six months to turn things around and that had not occurred. You will recall that last February, the party took very dramatic action and there was a spill motion. No one challenged Tony at the time and Tony asked for six months to turn things around and things haven't turned around. We now have a new leader. The challenge is for us to now get down to work, to win the trust and confidence of the Australian people.
DAVID KOCH: So the answer is yes. You lost confidence in him. Do you feel a bit of a traitor as his deputy leader?
JULIE BISHOP: I feel very sad for Tony and for his family. And it was not a easy decision for anyone to make. No-one took this decision lightly. My responsibility as the deputy, because I'm elected by the Party Room was to inform the leader of the views of the backbench and I did that. They had their opportunity to vote and they did. It's not been an easy decision for anybody. I am aware of the parallels that will be drawn but I believe I had an obligation to inform him of what they were thinking and indeed that’s what I did.
DAVID KOCH: Those parallels are basically that for the last couple of years you have prided yourself as a party saying "we are not as deceiving, we are not as spiteful as our Labor colleagues”. You are showing you are and the parallels between you and Julia Gillard are now being drawn of what she did to Kevin Rudd.
JULIE BISHOP: I am the deputy of the party. I stood as deputy. I didn't challenge Tony and I have not challenged for the leadership. So there is no parallel there, Kochie.
The parallel is also not valid because in February, Tony asked for six months and so the party gave him six months and seven months later, a majority of the Party Room did not have confidence in him and the best thing to do was to have a vote on it and we did have a have a vote and the majority voted in Malcolm Turnbull as the Prime Minister.
SAMANTHA ARMYTAGE: Look, it was a convincing ballot 54-44. That means that 44 people still voted against Malcolm Turnbull. Let’s have a quick listen to Malcolm Turnbull this morning.
Malcolm Turnbull: Well, it was a long night and it is going to be a big day today.
Journalist: What is the first order of business today?
Malcolm Turnbull: Well, we have to obviously - we have a party meeting and then have to go to Government House to be sworn in, but a lot of work to do.
Journalist: What is your message to the Australian public? They have had about five Prime Ministers in five years.
Malcolm Turnbull: This is, as I said last night, this is the most exciting time to be an Australian. The opportunities that are there in the global economy, built on the foundations, in no small measure of the free trade deals, are enormous. This is a great time to seize the day. I am filled with optimism and we will be setting out in the weeks ahead and the months ahead, we will be setting out more of those foundations that will ensure our prosperity in the years ahead. There has been a change of Prime Minister but we are a very, very strong government, a very strong country with a great potential. We will realise that potential working very hard together.
Journalist: Is this a dream come true for you?
Malcolm Turnbull: This is a turn of events I did not expect, I have to tell you, but it's one that I'm privileged to undertake and one that I'm certainly up to. Thanks a lot. I must go.
SAMANTHA ARMYTAGE: Julie Bishop, one of the papers is calling Malcolm Turnbull a smiling assassin this morning. How can you and Mr Turnbull convince Australia the Liberal Party is united, the Government is united, and that Australia, after five Prime Ministers in five years, is united?
JULIE BISHOP: Well, if you look at the vote for me as deputy, 70 of my colleagues supported my position. So I will continue to do my very best as the Deputy of the Liberal Party and as Foreign Minister of Australia. I will focus my attention and my efforts on representing Australia's interests overseas and here at home.
We have had a number of Prime Ministers and there have been changes of leader at a State and Federal level but the Party Room had decided that they wanted a new leader and it is within the gift of the Party Room to select that leader and they have done that. Malcolm is well known to the Australian people. He has been in public life for a very long time. He is a very competent, able man. I've had calls from leaders around the world overnight, they know Malcolm well and they are looking forward to working with him.
I believe he will instil confidence in our party that we can lay out a plan for the weeks and months ahead in the lead up to the next election. That we will be able to expose the weaknesses and the vacuum within the Labor Party and that we will give the Australian people hope for a better future because as Malcolm said, this is a great country. It has enormous potential. We have many creative people. I've often said our greatest natural asset is our people. Our greatest resource is their innovative and creative spirit. That's what we must tap to realise the potential of this country.
SAMANTHA ARMYTAGE: Okay. Well, look, Julie Bishop, we are going to have to leave it there. Thank you for your time this morning and all the best. Let's on hope we see some unity here and all the best.We will see you soon.
JULIE BISHOP: Enjoy London.
- Minister's office: (02) 6277 7500
- DFAT Media Liaison: (02) 6261 1555