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Transcript of interview with Lisa Wilki: TODAY: 12 October 2012: comments made at CFMEU dinner, Tony Abbott, Malcolm Turnbull, Peter Slipper

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Deputy Leader of the Opposition and Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade

Julie Bishop

TODAY with Lisa Wilkinson

12 October 2012

Subjects: comments made at CFMEU dinner, Tony Abbott, Malcolm Turnbull, Peter Slipper E&OE…… LISA WILKINSON Julie Bishop joins us now. Good morning to you Ms Bishop. Do you know exactly what was said? JULIE BISHOP I have been told the content of the joke. It was tasteless; it was offensive to Tony Abbott’s female chief of staff. But, the point of this is that Labor have failed the very test that they set for the Opposition, and Wayne Swan and other Ministers remained in the room after the joke was made so, by Labor's own test, they endorsed and condoned the joke. LISA WILKINSON As soon as the Prime Minister heard about it she comprehensively apologised and made her feelings clear about the joke. JULIE BISHOP But apparently other Labor Ministers remained in the room, enjoyed the evening, in fact, her Deputy, Wayne Swan, even made a speech thereafter. So, Labor set a test for the Coalition, that if an offensive remark is made, we should stand up and leave the room. Well, Labor Ministers heard an offensive remark and stayed, and Wayne Swan even made a speech after it. LISA WILKINSON Sexism really has been a flavour of politics over the last couple of weeks. As the most senior female politician in the Coalition, have you even been subjected to sexism? JULIE BISHOP By the Prime Minister's definition, everybody, every day is continually subjected to sexism. But by my definition, no I don’t believe I have. I’ve been elected the managing partner of a law firm, I’ve been elected the deputy leader of the opposition, but I never use sexism as an excuse for my own performance. I never try and silence my critics by claiming their comments about me are sexist. LISA WILKINSON Those are all clearly positions of very strong power. As Tony Abbott’s deputy, why aren’t you more concerned that Tony Abbott has a history of believing that women aren’t suited to position’s of power? JULIE BISHOP I don’t believe that at all. Tony Abbott does not have that history. In fact, he invited me to stay on as his deputy when he took the leadership of the Liberal Party. He’s always been very respectful and supportive of me and my other female colleagues. He’s promoted them into leadership roles. When he was the Minister for Health, he took a particular interest in promoting women’s health, so I don’t think that Tony Abbott is sexist in the least. I think that he’s a very loving and caring and supportive and respectful male colleague. LISA WILKINSON The gender war between Mr Abbott and the Prime Minister has made international headlines as you would know. You were quoted to have said that Julia Gillard was using gender to protect her from attack of her performance as Prime Minister. But, didn’t Tony Abbott play the gender card himself, exactly a week ago, when he bought his wife Margie onto our program and put her into the fray. JULIE BISHOP Labor have been conducting an orchestrated, coordinated campaign against Tony Abbott, very much like they did in Queensland against Campbell Newman and his family. They’ve made these terrible claims against Tony Abbott, including that he’s a misogynist. Lisa, that means that they claim he hates women. It’s a very offensive thing to say. It should never have been said, it should be withdrawn, but they said he hates women. Well, Tony Abbott is a son, a husband, a father, a brother, and he’s entitled to hit back and prove that these are outrageous and vile slurs

that should not be said against somebody who has a loving family; who clearly loves women, and the Prime Minister, who made the claim, should be apologising to the women in Tony’s life whom he clearly adores, and who clearly adore him. LISA WILKINSON Alright, moving on. Do think it’s hypocritical that you won’t accept Craig Thomson’s vote in Parliament but you will accept Peter Slippers vote? JULIE BISHOP Craig Thomson has been found by a government agency to have misappropriated about half a million dollars of low paid union workers funds. In those circumstances, we said we would not accept his vote. In the case of Peter Slipper, we were of the view that he was unfit to hold the office of Speaker. The Prime Minister defended him up hill and down dale, ] in fact, defended the indefensible. But when Peter Slipper stood down he became a member of the cross benchers and he’s entitled to vote the way his constituents expect him to vote. He was elected as a LNP member, he’s now been an independent and we will treat his vote like every other independent. LISA WILKINSON Ok, just quickly, before we have to go, is Tony Abbott’s leadership safe or is Malcolm Turnbull, who is doing so much better in the poles than Tony Abbott is as preferred PM. Do you think he’s shaping up for a return, it certainly looks that way? JULIE BISHOP Malcolm is making a wonderful contribution as a key part of our front bench team, and I expect that should we be honoured to win the next election Malcolm will play a very strong and significant role on our front bench. Tony Abbott is our leader. He has the full support of the Coalition to continue as our leader. LISA WILKINSON Alright, we will have to leave it there, Julie Bishop. We thank you very much for your time this morning. JULIE BISHOP Thank you.