Fri, 14 Sep, 2018Basmah Qazi

Julie Bishop breaks silence over “illegal” behaviour in parliament

Julie Bishop breaks silence over “illegal” behaviour in parliament

Former Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has been silent over the past few weeks as she takes on her role on the Liberal backbench.

But that silence was broken yesterday when she was swarmed by dozens of reporters in the halls of parliament.

Bishop seemed to be in no hurry to escape the media, and patiently answered a long list of questions on topics ranging from Peter Dutton’s eligibility to the conditions women in her party are currently facing.

After former PM and Liberal Party leader Malcolm Turnbull came out in support of the Labor Party, Dutton is facing pressure because of his comments.

Bishop added further weight onto Dutton’s shoulders by calling for “clarity” on the issue and implying that she was open to voting against Dutton.

“If there’s a vote, I will make up my mind at the time. But of course, we want clarity around the standing of all the members of parliament,” she said.

When asked if she believes Dutton should voluntarily refer himself to the court, she responded by saying that politicians had a “personal responsibility” to ensure they were eligible.

“That’s a matter for Peter Dutton. We all have a personal responsibility to ensure we are eligible to sit in the parliament. We’ve seen in recent times, steps taken by members of parliament to clarify their status. But it’s a matter for each politician to make that determination.”

During Turnbull’s leadership, Bishop, along with the rest of the Liberal Party, voted and shot down an attempt to refer Dutton.

If she changed her mind now, the numbers would go to the Labor Party.

Bishop also defended her former colleague and said that Turnbull has every right to lobby MPs from New York.

“I’m sure Malcolm’s enjoying his break from politics,” she said.

“He has feelings and like any other Australian he’s free to express them.”

Touching on the topic of bullying amongst her party, Bishop is still standing by her previous comments on the intimidation in politics.

“You all attend Question Time. You see the behaviour in Question Time. Would that be tolerated in any workplace?” she asked, citing the constant name-calling and shouting across the chamber.

She suggested that the behaviour that occurs in parliament would be considered “illegal”, and also mildly expressed support for the Liberal Party’s decision to deal with bullying allegations “internally” without naming the alleged culprits.

“It’s a very difficult situation where you are accusing others of behaviour that could, well, in some instances be illegal, to name them,” Bishop said.

“If the women who feel this way are confident that their concerns will be taken seriously and investigated then there’s no need to name them publicly.”

Liberal Senator Lucy Gichuhi took back her threat this week of naming the bullies in parliament, saying she had spoken to Prime Minister Scott Morrison and left it in his hands.