Former Foreign Affairs minister and deputy Prime Minister, Julie Bishop, has spoken out for the first time about the “appalling” behaviour of her colleagues during the Liberal Spill. The cabinet minister discussed the actions of her colleagues during the Women’s Weekly ‘Women of the Future’ awards on Wednesday.
Ms Bishop described the events during the Spill as a “circus”, saying that normalising this behaviour is contributing to the hostile work environment.
“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. But in parliament, it’s the norm,” Bishop said at the event.
Bishop also weighed in on the accusations of bullying in parliament, particularly discussing the resignation of former liberal MP Julia Banks on the grounds of workplace bullying.
“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’,” Bishop said.
A consistent source of conflict within the parliament is the lack of gender diversity in the current and former cabinet. Ms Bishop is currently the only female who has offered to lead the Liberal party. She touched on this, calling for the parties to diversify their cabinet.
“I say to my party, it is not acceptable for us (…) to have less than 25 per cent of our parliamentarians as female,” she said.
“It is not acceptable for our party to contribute to a fall in Australia’s ratings from 15th in the world in terms of female parliamentary representatives in 1999, to 50th today.”
Current deputy PM Josh Frydenberg has agreed with his predecessor about the lack of diversity in the current government.
“It’s not good enough,” Frydenberg claimed in an interview with ABC radio. “That is something we all need to be very conscious of and to mitigate against.”
Bishop has recently announced her intentions to run in the next federal election. She will be running for her seat in Curtin, Western Australia.