SIMON BRIDGES: It’s just fantastic to have Julie Bishop with us today as we have our two-day caucus for the National Party. Obviously, it’s a really highlight for us of our Caucus in having her this evening come along. Julie’s got a lot of friends in the National Party Caucus and also a lot of admirers – the way she’s been such a leader and a trailblazer for women. She’s of course had a vast experience in parliamentary politics since 1998 and more recently as a very significant foreign minister and friend of New Zealand. And also, of course, as Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party.
So we’re really looking forward to hearing from her at our dinner this evening, getting some insights from her about what’s been happening internationally, and what that will mean for both the National Party and New Zealand as we position ourselves for 2020.
So, Julie, it’s just our pleasure to have you here. We’re really privileged. I can tell you, as I say, that the Members of Parliament in the National Party are really looking forward to seeing you and chatting informally. And I know the media here are very interested to hear what you say and, I’m sure, ask you a few questions.
JULIE BISHOP: Thank you, Simon. I’m absolutely delighted to accept your invitation to address the National Party caucus. It’s great to be amongst friends. The Liberal Party in Australia and the National Party in New Zealand have a long history. We are sister parties with common values, common heritage and we have many experiences to share, and I congratulate you on the role that you have been playing as the Leader of the Opposition. It’s one of the toughest jobs in Australia so I’m assuming that applies here in New Zealand; and also, Paula Bennett, as your Deputy.
I’m looking forward to speaking with your colleagues, because I have been in parliament for many years now. In fact, I’m entering my 21st year in the Australian Parliament. I have contested seven federal elections; five in government and two in opposition, and 14 of my years have been in government and six have been in opposition. I think I’ve picked up a few lessons along the way and I hope there’s some experience that I can share with you.
There are many global challenges facing political parties around the world, including centre-right parties, as the Liberal and National Parties are. The US/China trade conflict; the struggle to find an orderly Brexit; the fourth industrial revolution that’s changing the way we live and work and play and engage; the deficit of trust that we’re seeing between the public and elected representatives in various places around the world; and these are all challenges that you will face in your upcoming election and by 2020. And I’m hoping that I’ll be able to share my observations and experiences on how to win government from opposition.
QUESTION: What advice would you give to the National Party here in New Zealand?
JULIE BISHOP: It’s not a matter of giving the National Party advice. They are a very experienced Party. They have a bright, talented team; but I want to share some of the experiences that we’ve had in opposition – winning from a Labor government – and to share what we have done, some of the lessons that we have learned, and if Members of the National Party find that useful and can adapt that to their circumstances then I will have made a contribution to the return of the National Party to government.
QUESTION: Will you be recontesting your seat at the upcoming election?
JULIE BISHOP: I am the preselected Liberal candidate for the seat of Curtin. It’s my intention to run.
QUESTION: So it’s your intention right now; will it still be your intention in one months’ time to run?
JULIE BISHOP: I can speak about my position now. I’ve been the preselected candidate for the Liberal Party for the seat of Curtin for some time now and it’s my intention to run.
QUESTION: Is there anything that would change- is there any sort of group of factors you’re considering that might change your intention?
JULIE BISHOP: It’s my intention to run.
QUESTION: If the Coalition Government lose the upcoming election, which polls suggest they will do, will you consider challenging the leadership of the Liberal Party?
JULIE BISHOP: I don’t accept those polls, This far out from an election such polls are not conclusive. There are many issues that will arise between now and Election Day and I’m confident that the Morrison Government will win the next election.
QUESTION: Is Scott Morrison the best person to lead the Government into the election?
JULIE BISHOP: Yes.
QUESTION: Would you like a stint as leader as part of your political career?
JULIE BISHOP: I stood for the leadership of the Party last August and I was not successful. My ambition coming into politics was actually to be the Foreign Minister, and I have achieved that. So, my aspirations have been fulfilled and I’m now the Member for Curtin and working hard for my constituency in Western Australia.
QUESTION: Do feel there was an element of sexism that played into you losing the ballot?
JULIE BISHOP: That’s not the way I saw it and that’s not the way I’ve ever viewed my political career. I don’t see it through a gender prism.
QUESTION: Do centre-right parties have a female crisis?
JULIE BISHOP: I believe we need to see more women in all aspects of public life, and I certainly want to see more women representing the Liberal Party in politics in Australia, and I’m sure the National Party feels the same way. But we are working hard to attract people of all backgrounds, all walks of life; different life experience, to be part of the political debates, the national debates and the national issues. And that includes increasing the number of female representatives. I’m patron of an initiative in Western Australia called Emergent Women, which is about identifying a pool of talented young women who can be mentored and supported and guided through, potentially, a political career.
QUESTION: There’s only 19 out of the 54 National MPs – are women. Do you think that they need to have a look at recruiting more women?
JULIE BISHOP: Well I have no doubt that that’s a matter on the agenda, and it’s an experience that I can share from the Liberal Party’s perspective in Australia. We want to see more women attracted to politics generally on all sides; not just on the centre-right side but on all sides of politics. The greater the diversity of voices, the more representative the Parliament is and, I think, the better the outcomes.
QUESTION: What’s your advice for your Liberal Party colleagues who are, right now, considering bowing out of politics ahead of the upcoming election?
JULIE BISHOP: I’m not aware of any.
QUESTION: Craig Laundy.
JULIE BISHOP: Well, I’m not aware of Craig Laundy’s intentions. I understand that he’s considering running again; I’m not sure that he’s preselected. But each person is responsible for their own actions, their own judgements, and I’m not going to start giving other people advice and I don’t expect them to give me advice. It’s a personal decision that you have to make, taking into account your circumstances, those of your electorate and party, and the nation generally.
QUESTION: Was the Australian Government wrong to resist calling the Banking Royal Commission for as long as it did?
JULIE BISHOP: The Banking Royal Commission has now been concluded. There have been significant recommendations made and the Government is accepting virtually all of those recommendations. This is about ensuring better conduct on the part of the banks and the financial sector, and acting in the interest of the consumers, and that’s what we’ll achieve by the work that we’ve already done in this area; but also by accepting the recommendations of the Royal Commission.
UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: Sorry guys, last question.
QUESTION: If the Liberal Party and the National Party were sister parties, is it appropriate for you to be coming to an opposition party in New Zealand when your Government has to work so closely with the Labour Government over here?
JULIE BISHOP: It’s certainly appropriate. This happens all the time between parties. Labor Members from New Zealand and Australia would exchange ideas and agendas, and centre-right parties – the National Party in New Zealand and the Liberal Party in Australia – should likewise do so. We do it around the world. I have met with politicians and members of a number of centre-right parties this week TO address the mutual issues of concern, the mutual opportunities that we have. It’s most certainly something that I’d expect from all political parties; entirely appropriate.
QUESTION: What’s your assessment of the government here in New Zealand?
JULIE BISHOP: That’s a matter for the people of New Zealand. I’m not here to talk about domestic politics. That’s …
QUESTION: But based on your dealings with, and often meetings with Winston Peters, surely you have a view on how the Government is performing?
JULIE BISHOP: Australia and New Zealand are very close friends. Whoever is in Government in Wellington; whomever is in Government in Canberra, the interests of our nations are our priority and of course we work well together. I’ve worked with numerous foreign ministers from New Zealand over my career in politics. I know Winston Peters well. I get along well with him. I met with Murray McCully today – one of your very fine former Foreign Ministers, and had a great discussion with him about global challenges and domestic politics.
SIMON BRIDGES: Can I just say once again: it’s great to have Julie here. It’s a real treat for our Caucus. We know we’re going to get a lot of lessons from her, both in terms of that international perspective; but also of course in terms of her leadership in a centre-right party, and so it was great to have you here and we’re really looking forward to your words tonight.