The Project, interview with Waleed Aly, Carrie Bickmore, Steve Price and Peter Helliar

  • Transcript, E&OE

JOURNALIST Former Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party Julie Bishop has just been named the new Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party and she joins us now. Congratulations on keeping your job, you must be very happy. Do we know if Tony Abbott is happy with keeping his job on the backbench?

JULIE BISHOP Thank you for your good wishes and I'm delighted to be re-elected by the party room unopposed as the Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party and I will continue to serve the party and the people of Australia in that role. Tony has a contribution to make to the party room, as a number of people do, a contribution to the Government, and I hope he continues to do so.

JOURNALIST So has Malcolm kept the conservative rump of the party happy today, Julie Bishop, or not?

JULIE BISHOP What Malcolm has done is put together a team, most of them were in their ministerial positions prior to the election, and Malcolm made it quite clear that he expected to have a very similar team, depending upon the outcome of the election. And what he has done today is put people into positions that he believes will deliver the best outcomes for the Australian people. That's what we're focusing on, delivering for the Australian people, and I think we have the skills and the talent in the team to do that.

JOURNALIST So just before we move off the Tony Abbott side of it there Minister, does that mean that Malcolm Turnbull doesn't believe that Tony Abbott has the best skills or is amongst the better skilled members of his party to deliver what a minister would?

JULIE BISHOP There are only 42 ministerial positions available and we have many more members and senators than that, so it is a question of trying to fit the right people into the roles and delivering for the people of Australia. It is a juggling act but the Prime Minister did make it quite clear that he expected to take the same team, subject to the election outcome, into the election and appoint them after the election and that's essentially what he has done, given a few changed circumstances.

JOURNALIST I will take that as a definite maybe! [LAUGHTER] On superannuation, though, this has been the big flashpoint within the party. It is a policy that clearly not everybody within the party agrees with, the policy that you took to the election. Can you tell us tonight that that won't change, that that policy that people went to the polls and voted for is going to stay as it is?

JULIE BISHOP Everybody in the party room agrees that the superannuation system needs to be fit for its purpose and that is to provide retirement income or a supplement to the age pension. It's not for tax minimisation, it's not for estate planning, and there were significant savings in the changes that we proposed. So we have an obligation, I believe, to present to the Houses of Parliament the Budget measures that we took to the election. That means that legislation on the super changes will have to be drafted. It means it will have to go to Cabinet, have to go to the party room and then be presented to the House of Representatives. There can sometimes be committees in the House of Representatives to review, there will be debates and then it will go to the Senate and there can sometimes be committees of review in the Senate. So there's quite a process to go through. I mean, that's the fact, that's the way the process works.

JOURNALIST So definitely... Maybe.


JULIE BISHOP Well at least I'm consistent!


JOURNALIST You are right, no doubt about that. On a bipartisan note, Kevin Rudd has asked the Australian Government put him forward as someone that would be good for the UN Secretary-General role. I notice it has attracted some commentary today including from his own side of politics, Kristina Keneally had this to say, for instance.

FOOTAGE OF KRISTINA KENEALLY: The man is a psychopathic narcissist and that is not just my opinion that is the opinion of a whole range of people currently sitting in the Parliament. I can think of twelve Australians off the top of my head who would be a better Secretary-General and one of them is my labrador.


JOURNALIST I don't think her labrador is Australian, but anyway! Is Cabinet currently considering nominating Kristina Keneally's labrador?

JULIE BISHOP There are currently twelve candidates in the race to become the Secretary-General of the United Nations. Kevin Rudd, as a former Prime Minister and a former Foreign Minister has asked the Australian Government to put his name forward so that he can take up an opportunity to be on the starting line of a very long race. All twelve candidates so far have been nominated by their host government. It's not an endorsement, it just gives them the opportunity to be in the race. There are many hurdles ahead. The Security Council, the Permanent Five, hold a number of straw polls and that means the candidates have to present their credentials to the Security Council. A number of them are expected to drop out through that process. But ultimately, then, the whole General Assembly agrees on one person. So what he has asked us to do is give him an opportunity to stand at the beginning of this race.

JOURNALIST On a personal note, Minister, on a scale of one to ten, how much are you going to miss Cory Bernardi when he starts the Cory Bernardi Party?

JULIE BISHOP I believe that Cory is going to continue as a contributing member of the Liberal Party.

JOURNALIST I give that a five, maybe! Or a four! Minister, thank you so much for your time tonight.

JULIE BISHOP It has been my pleasure.


JOURNALIST It is time for another break...

JOURNALIST I think we can take from that there will be changes to super.

JOURNALIST That's what I read.

JOURNALIST Kevin Rudd will get a tick and he can go in the race, they don't think he will win, so they may as well let him blow himself up with their help and everything else that Julie Bishop said we completely endorse.

- Ends -

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