ABC 24 News Breakfast, Canberra - interview with Michael Rowland

  • Transcript, E&OE
15 September 2015

MICHAEL ROWLAND My guest is the Deputy Liberal Leader Julie Bishop, voted in again as Deputy Leader last night. Good morning to you and congratulations.

JULIE BISHOP Thank you Michael.

MICHAEL ROWLAND Take us through what happened in that meeting you had with Malcolm Turnbull and Tony Abbott in the hours before the ballot last night?

JULIE BISHOP I only had a meeting with Tony Abbott, and I became aware in recent times that the majority of the Party Room had lost confidence in Tony's leadership and that they wanted a change of leader, and as deputy, being seized with this information, it is my obligation to inform the leader and I did that.

MICHAEL ROWLAND How did he take that news?

JULIE BISHOP He knew that he had a number of options available to him, but we had a short conversation and then I left it to him to make a decision as to what he wanted to do. But having been told by a number of people that they had lost confidence in him, I felt it was my responsibility to inform him of the views of the backbench.

MICHAEL ROWLAND Why did he need to go? What did Tony Abbott get so wrong?

JULIE BISHOP Well, the party took a rather dramatic act over seven months ago when there was a spill motion in the Party Room that didn't succeed and no-one challenged him for the job at the time. And he asked for six months to turn things around. Well, seven months later, the majority of the Party Room felt that he hadn't done that and there are a whole range of matters that made them lose confidence in him and they wanted a change of leader and they were given the opportunity to have their say and that's what they did yesterday.

MICHAEL ROWLAND Was it his style of governing, the way his office operated?

JULIE BISHOP It is a whole range of matters, the management of his office, his relationship with a number of people. There are decisions that were taken and the manner of those decisions being taken that were of deep concern, but the majority of the Party Room felt that we needed a new direction and a new leader and they voted accordingly.

MICHAEL ROWLAND How different will Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull be to Tony Abbott?

JULIE BISHOP Every leader brings their different style, their different life experience, their different outlook and approach, their different management style, their different relationships, and so of course it will be different. I believe Malcolm will be very inclusive. He is very well-known to the Australian public. He has been a high-profile public figure for many years now. His career is well-known to most Australian people, so I believe that he will bring his life experience, his personality, his interests and his focus to the job. He is energetic, determined, passionate and no-one can ever suggest that Malcolm doesn't wear his heart on his sleeve. You know exactly where you stand with Malcolm and he will be - I think he will make a very great Prime Minister.

MICHAEL ROWLAND He is certainly not a shy and retiring violet, is he? But he also has a lot of work to do seriously because there are lots of deeply angered people within your party, supporters of Tony Abbott, over the events of last night and how quickly they happened.

JULIE BISHOP It is a very emotional time for everyone, but it has been building for at least the last seven months. The events of February obviously have to be put in that context, and so nobody wanted the Abbott Government to succeed more than I did. I am the deputy and I wanted our Government to succeed. Tony had done a fantastic job in winning the 2013 election and there was so much hope and so much expectation. But last February, a number of people felt that he hadn't met their expectations and he asked for six months, and the party gave him that six months and now seven months later a majority of them have decided they wanted a change of leader and that he had lost their confidence.

MICHAEL ROWLAND How much room to move does Malcolm Turnbull have, and you as deputy, on issues like climate change, like same-sex marriage?

JULIE BISHOP Without doubt any change in policy will have to be the subject of discussion, consultation and approach by the party room - that must occur and I believe that Malcolm will be consultative, even inclusive in that regard, so the policies remain until they are changed and they are only changed through a process of discussion and consultation with the Party Room.

MICHAEL ROWLAND How do you feel now about the fact that you can no longer criticise the Labor Party, criticise Bill Shorten for being the guy who has knifed Prime Ministers, given your role in knifing a sitting Prime Minister yesterday?

JULIE BISHOP I did not challenge for his job. I passed on the views that were...

MICHAEL ROWLAND Excuse me for interrupting, you were a key player though in Malcolm Turnbull's ascendency?

JULIE BISHOP I could not receive information from the backbench and just sit on it. That's not the role of the deputy. When people come to see me to pass on a message to the leader, when they ask me as the elected deputy to play a role in passing on information and telling the leader of the views of the backbench then it is my obligation to do that. I am not elected on a ticket with the leader. I am elected separately as the deputy, and as you saw last night, 70 of my colleagues have asked me to do the job again and I'm honoured to do it. It is not an easy job but it is one I am willing to do for my colleagues and in the interests of the party and the interests of the Australian people. It is important that there be continuity and stability in the leadership team and I hope to provide that.

MICHAEL ROWLAND When will Malcolm Turnbull go to the people? Will the Government serve its full term?

JULIE BISHOP I believe we will.

MICHAEL ROWLAND Julie Bishop, thank you very much for your time this morning.


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