JULIE BISHOP: Mr Speaker, I seek your indulgence to make a brief statement.
SPEAKER: The Member for Curtin may proceed.
JULIE BISHOP: Mr Speaker, during the past few weeks, I have had the opportunity to closely consider the future of the Coalition Government and the pending general election. I have closely observed Prime Minister Scott Morrison and the Liberal National team in the Parliament, in Question Time, in the party room, in press conferences, and elsewhere. And it is evident that the policy platform that we will take to the next election is crystallising, based on the very firm foundations of our unrelenting focus on prudent management of our national finances – so that we can afford the services that Australians need – in returning the budget to surplus, in paying down debt, in lowering taxes, in backing enterprise and job creation, and growing the economy for the benefit of all Australians.
And Mr Speaker, Australians will remember that in 2007 the Labor Party promised to deliver responsible budgets. Yet in government, they trashed the national finances through wasteful and reckless spending. Labor also promised to maintain strong border protection, yet in government, they presided over one of the greatest policy failures in a generation when they weakened those border protection laws.
Mr Speaker, during the last two weeks it has become evident that Labor has learnt nothing from its past failings, and is doomed to repeat these failings should it be re-elected.
It is thus my view that the Liberal-National Coalition will win the next election and that the Government will be returned to office, because it is focusing on the matters, that matter to the Australian people. And on that basis, I have reconsidered my position as the Member for Curtin.
I have been contacted by a number of talented, indeed extraordinary people, including women, who have indicated to me that should I not re-contest the seat of Curtin, they would seek pre-selection from the Curtin division of the Liberal Party for that seat.
Accordingly, I will not re-contest the seat of Curtin at the next election and I will work hard in the meantime to assist a new Liberal candidate to win the seat. It is time for a new member to take my place.
I will leave the seat of Curtin in very good shape, indeed, a winning position for the Liberal Party. When I first contested the seat in 1998, I won the election with a primary vote of 44.6 percent. At the last election – my seventh election – my primary vote was 65.6 percent within, essentially, the same electoral boundary. With a two-party preferred of 71 percent, with an experienced campaign team and campaign funds already in place, I am confident that a Liberal candidate will have every opportunity to win the support of the people of Curtin.
It has been an immense honour to be the longest serving member for Curtin, and also to be the Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party – the first female to hold the role – for 11 years, over half my entire political career. And I am also proud of the fact that I am the first woman to contest the leadership ballot of the Liberal Party in its 75 year history.
It has also been an immense honour to serve in Cabinet. First as the Minister for Education, Science and Training and Women’s Issues, and then as the Minister for Foreign Affairs – Australia’s first female Foreign Minister. And I am so very proud that my successor, Senator Marise Payne, will be, and is, the second female Foreign Minister of Australia.
My five years as Foreign Minister were a particular privilege, being able to represent Australia on the world stage. We should be so proud of our reputation and the high regard in which we are held as a nation. An open liberal democracy, committed to freedoms and the rule of law, and democratic institutions. An open, highly competitive, export-oriented market economy, entering our 28th consecutive year of uninterrupted economic growth, that’s a world record, with a lifestyle and a standard of living that is unparalleled.
I thank and acknowledge the Prime Ministers in whose cabinets I served: John Howard, Tony Abbott, and Malcolm Turnbull. I thank the Liberal Party of Australia, my division of Curtin, the State division, my colleagues, past and present, in this place, and the Liberal Party members across Australia and living overseas, everywhere, for the remarkable opportunity they have afforded me to be a Member of the House of Representatives since 1998.
I have been blessed to work with some outstanding political and ministerial staff, who shared my passion for my political and policy endeavours, and I thank them, particularly Murray Hansen, my closest adviser for 14 years.
I thank my big, beautiful, supportive family, my siblings – Mary-Lou and Joe, Patricia and Ed, Douglas and Nicole, and David Panton and his family. And I say to my many close and trusted friends, I look forward to seeing a lot more of you.
As I said in this place, in my first speech in November 1998, I was brought up to believe that entering public office should be one of the highest callings and that being able to direct your energies and your abilities to the betterment of your state or your country was one of the greatest contributions you could make. And that I’d always had an intense conviction that an individual can make a difference to the life of their times. That remains my view.
I also set out a goal in that speech; to represent the people of Curtin with all the vigour and courage and ability that I had to offer, with honesty, with decency, and above all, to put their interests above my own.
Mr Speaker, I will leave this place, positive about the future, proud of the service that I have been able to give, to my electorate of Curtin, my beloved Liberal Party, the state of Western Australia, and my country.