13 September 2018
PARLIAMENT HOUSE, CANBERRA
JOURNALIST: Do you agree with Mr Turnbull that Peter Dutton should be referred to the High Court?
JULIE BISHOP: That’s a matter for the Prime Minister or indeed the Leader of the Opposition to determine. If there is a vote on the matter I will make my mind up at that time, but of course we want clarity around the standing of all Members of Parliament.
JOURNALIST: Is the best option for Peter Dutton to actually voluntarily refer himself?
JULIE BISHOP: That is a matter for Peter Dutton. We all have personal responsibility to ensure we are eligible to sit in the Parliament. We have seen in recent times steps taken by members of Parliament to clarify their status but it is a matter for each politician, each Member, Senator to make that determination. Of course, others could well seek to refer it but that is a matter for them.
JOURNALIST: So, you are saying that there is a lack of clarity around Mr Dutton?
JULIE BISHOP: No, don’t put words in my mouth. I said each person has responsibility to ensure that they are eligible to sit in the Parliament. In a number of instances recently, we all know that politicians have taken steps to clarify that. Mr Dutton has stated that there is no issue concerning his eligibility to sit in Parliament. It is then up to others to demonstrate that that statement is not correct.
JOURNALIST: You said earlier that more females in the Liberal Party were needed. Can that be done through gender quotas?
JULIE BISHOP: There are a number of ways of increasing female representation. We must never lose sight of the fact that we need the best people to represent our electorates and so our preselection process is designed to ensure that people of calibre and merit, the most appropriate person for that electorate, is preselected. Now, how that is achieved, people have very different views about it. But I have a long history through my legal career and political career in encouraging more women to enter these particularly male dominated spheres through mentoring, through support, through advice, through being a shoulder for them to lean on when times become challenging, but there are other more formal mechanisms. I believe in targets. In the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade for example, we have a target to increase the number of female diplomats and we have achieved – virtually- our target. Likewise, the Turnbull Government had a target of 50 per cent female representation on government boards and we were making significant progress. I am now not in the Cabinet so I can’t give you the updated figures but I do understand that we are making significant progress. In my former portfolio, I think we’ve reached about 49 per cent of the positions available on government boards and agencies and councils, now being filled by females.
JOURNALIST: …the kinds of behaviour in Parliament – there is appalling behaviour particularly towards women in terms of bullying and intimidation, do you stand by that?
JULIE BISHOP: Of course. You all attend Question Time. You have seen the behaviour in Question Time. Would that be tolerated in any workplace? And despite the best efforts of the Speaker and the rules, the standing orders, we still see the name-calling and the shouting. Tell me another workplace where you could do that?
JOURNALIST: Do you agree with Julia Banks’ statement last night in Parliament that there is a culture of undermining?
JULIE BISHOP: That is the nature of politics and I think we are all well aware of that. I mean, you wouldn’t see the kind of leadership challenges that we have witnessed over the last ten years almost now, if that were not the case.
JOURNALIST: Is there a continuing insurgency against Mr Morrison, do you think?
JULIE BISHOP: I don’t believe so.
JOURNALIST: Do you think the women claim they have been bullied should be naming names?
JULIE BISHOP: It is a very difficult situation, where you are accusing others of behaviour that could be in some instances illegal, to name them and I believe that the Liberal Party is seeking to resolve these issues internally. That is what I would expect any organisation to do and if the women or men who feel this way are confident that their concerns will be taken seriously and will be considered and investigated then there is no need to name them publicly.
JOURNALIST: Was Malcolm Turnbull’s tweet getting into the realms of snipping?
JULIE BISHOP: I am sure Malcolm is enjoying his break from politics but he has opinions and like every other Australian he is free to express them.
JOURNALIST: Should more colleagues contribute to the Enid Lyons Fund that Kelly O’Dwyer started?
JULIE BISHOP: Well I certainly have and I have been very pleased to do so. I believe that Kelly O’Dwyer has commenced a wonderful initiative. She is seeking funding to support females in marginal seats and also I hope females who are seeking preselection and have challenges raising funds. I know all candidates do, but women in particular have challenges in trying to get the kind of money that is required to run for a seat in Parliament. I responded to Kelly’s request. I know she wrote to all Cabinet Ministers asking them to raise money or donate personally or find money within their campaign funds to donate to the Enid Lyons Foundation. Just a couple of weeks ago we celebrated the 75th Anniversary of Enid Lyons appointment, election as a Member of Parliament here in the House of Representatives. It was a great moment and I think it would be wonderful if more colleagues were able to contribute to that fund.
– Ends –
Member for Curtin’s office: 08 9388 0288