Doorstop interview, Bennelong Cup

  • Transcript, E&OE

JOURNALIST Minister, what was your chief of staff doing at the meeting of the plotters?

JULIE BISHOP Nothing that has come out in this story contradicts anything that I have said publicly. It completely aligns with what I have said about this matter from the outset - that once I was aware that the Prime Minister at the time, Prime Minister Tony Abbott, had lost the confidence of a majority of the Cabinet room and a majority of his party I spoke to him about it immediately.

JOURNALIST Did your chief of staff attend the meeting?

JULIE BISHOP Yes, he was at a drinks night at Peter Hendy's place on the Sunday night.

JOURNALIST Was that at your behest?

JULIE BISHOP I was aware that he was attending at Peter Hendy's house. It is part of my job as deputy leader to understand what the Party Room is thinking. It is part of my job to be in touch with members of the back bench, either through my staff or personally and that is what I do. And it's why I was able to be in touch with so many people that I was able to conclude the view on the Monday morning that the Prime Minister had lost the confidence of the majority of his Cabinet and a majority of his Party Room and then I saw him immediately and informed him of that. And this is entirely consistent with every public statement I've made in relation to this matter.

JOURNALIST Was your chief of staff on a fact finding mission or was he plotting?

JULIE BISHOP He was there to meet with Peter Hendy. I did not know who would be attending the meeting and, of course, like all chiefs of staff, they feed back the information that they've learned and it was part of my job, as it had been all year, to find out what the back bench were thinking. Indeed, it is the job of every member of the leadership team, the leader of the Senate, the leader of the House, the Deputy Prime Minister, the deputy leader, the Prime Minister, to know what the backbench is thinking and that's precisely what I was doing.

JOURNALIST Why didn't you tell the Prime Minister earlier? Why did you wait until the Monday morning to tell the Prime Minister these sorts of meetings were taking place?

JULIE BISHOP What sort of meeting? I was aware that my chief of staff was going to drinks at Peter Hendy's place. When I learned who was there on the Monday morning and when Cabinet Ministers came to see me I made the first opportunity available to see the Prime Minister, who didn't have a leadership meeting that morning because he was in Adelaide and was flying. I met him within five minutes of his attendance here in Parliament House. This is entirely consistent-

JOURNALIST When did Mr Hanson report back to you in terms of what happened at the meeting and what did he tell you?

JULIE BISHOP Monday morning and it was consistent with everything that I had learned during that last week when members of Mr Abbott's Cabinet came to see me, when members of the Party Room came to see me to reflect what was being reported in the newspapers. I mean, this doesn't occur in a bubble. There were rumours, there were stories, the media, you were all reporting, and when I learned that he'd lost a majority of support, the confidence of his Cabinet and the confidence of his Party Room on the Monday morning I saw him at the earliest opportunity and that's a division.

(Bells ring)

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