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Julie Bishop challenges political parties to have more women MPs

Derek Cheng, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Thursday, 7 February 2019, 6:31PM
National leader Simon Bridges and former Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop speak to media at the National Party caucus retreat in Hamilton. (Photo / Derek Cheng)
National leader Simon Bridges and former Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop speak to media at the National Party caucus retreat in Hamilton. (Photo / Derek Cheng)

Former Australian Liberal Party deputy leader Julie Bishop is challenging political parties to have more women MPs, saying more diverse voices will lead to better outcomes.

And Bishop is downplaying the possibility of another shot at the Liberal Party leadership, saying she fulfilled her political ambitions when she served as Australia's Foreign Minister for five years.

Bishop is the special guest at the National Party's caucus retreat in Hamilton tonight, where she will offer her perspective on international politics and how to wrestle power from a centre-left party.

National Party leader Simon Bridges said Bishop was a "trailblazer for women" and it was a privilege to hear her views.

She said she expected to talk to the National Party about having more women MPs; National will have 20 women out of 55 MPs when new MP Agnes Loheni is sworn in next week.

"I have no doubt that that's a matter on the agenda," Bishop said.

"We [the Liberal Party] want to see more women attracted to politics generally, on all sides of politics. The greater the diversity of voices, the more representative the Parliament is, I think the better the outcomes."

She said more women were needed in all aspects of public life.

"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."

Bridges added: "Absolutely."

But Bishop said that she didn't think sexism was an issue in her losing the race for the Liberal leadership in August last year.

"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."

Bishop stood down as Foreign Minister in Australia after Malcolm Turnbull was rolled as leader.

She put her hand up to replace Turnbull, but was eliminated in the first ballot.

Despite the loss, she said she intended to run in the Australian federal election this year.

"I'm the pre-selected candidate for Curtin and it's my intention to run."

But she downplayed having another tilt at the leadership, saying she had already tried.

"My ambition was to be Foreign Minister. My aspirations have been fulfilled. I'm now the member for Curtin and working hard for my constituency in Western Australia."

Despite current polling putting the Labor Party in Australia in the lead, Bishop was confident that the Liberal Party would win this year's election and that current party leader Scott Morrison was the best person for the job.

She planned to tell the National caucus her views on today's global challenges.

"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 - these are all challenges you will face in your upcoming election by 2020."

Bishop said the Liberal Party and National were "sister parties with common values, common heritage", and there was nothing inappropriate about speaking at the National Party retreat.

She said she had a good relationship with politicians of all stripes, including current Foreign Minister Winston Peters and former Foreign Minister Murray McCully, with whom she had a quick meeting about "global challenges and domestic politics" prior to arriving at the retreat.


ON AIR: Heather du Plessis-Allan Drive

4PM - 7PM