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Transcript of interview with Leigh Sales: ABC 7:30: Tony Abbott



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

Julie Bishop

11/10/2012

ABC 7.30 with Leigh Sales

Subjects: Tony Abbott

E&OE……

LEIGH SALES

Julie Bishop, as the most senior female politician in the Liberal Party, have you ever been subject to sexism?

JULIE BISHOP

Well, given the description of sexism by the Labor Party this week, it seems that every body has been. But, I don’t dignify sexist or misogynist remarks. I most certainly don’t endorse or condone them, and that’s why the dishonesty of Labor’s campaign, spearheaded by Nicola Roxon and the Prime Minister was revealed this week. The outrage that they say they feel about the sexist and misogynist behaviour was exposed as a confected campaign directed at Tony Abbot and other members of the Coalition.

LEIGH SALES

Well, again I ask, have you ever been subject to sexism?

JULIE BISHOP

Not that I’m prepared to discuss on national television. There have been circumstances when I feel that people have made judgements about me because I’m a women but the fact is I have entered Federal Politics to be judged on my performance, on my competence, and I don’t expect to be judged any other way. When people criticise me I take it as criticism of my performance. I don’t use gender as a shield against critics and I certainly don’t use charges of sexism and misogyny to stop people making valid criticism.

LEIGH SALES

Do you think that it’s fair enough that the Prime Minister is offended by something like being called Bob Brown’s bitch?

JULIE BISHOP

Most certainly any comments of that nature are totally unacceptable in our public discourse and should not be said, should not be made. I’m certainly not here to apologise for that kind of behaviour. But Labor’s campaign, a concerted campaign calling the Leader of the Opposition a misogynist, suggesting that he hates women is utterly dishonest and the Prime Minister should withdraw that statement and apologise to the many women in Tony Abbott’s life who love him and whom he loves so dearly, his mother, his wife, his sisters, his daughters.

LEIGH SALES

They’ve also said as well as being misogynist that he is sexist. How do you explain away all those sexist comments that were read out by the Prime Minister during her speech this week?

JULIE BISHOP

She referred to the Alan Jones comment. That was not made by Tony Abbott.

LEIGH SALES

No, I mean Tony Abbott’s comments that she read out. She read out a number …

JULIE BISHOP

I was only aware of the comments that she read out of other people and signs written by others. Tony Abbott has distanced himself from the Alan Jones comments, he’s certainly said that he’s not aware of those signs being held up behind him and would not have attended that rally and stood by those signs if he’d known it was going to happen.

LEIGH SALES

She read out a number. You were in the Parliament. There was one that she referred to that Mr Abbott made in 1998. He agreed that women and men should have the same opportunities, but he said what if men are by physiology or temperament, more suited to exercise authority or to issue command.

JULIE BISHOP

He’s asked a question. I don’t see that as sexist. He’s posed a question.

LEIGH SALES

You don’t think he’s making a suggestion with that question?

JULIE BISHOP

Look it was part of a debate back in 1998 about the roles of men and women. The Prime Minister is trivialising sexism and misogyny when she raises things like an objection, or her party raises things like an objection to the Coalition referring to her as ‘she’ in question time and claims that that’s unparliamentary, it’s sexist. It’s a subject pro-noun that refers to women. How else do the Labor Party expect us to refer to the Prime Minister, if not as she? It’s gone to ridiculous lengths.

But the dishonesty of the campaign against Tony Abbott was revealed this week over the Peter Slipper affair, and I must say Leigh, given that the Prime Minister and the Attorney-General, Nicola Roxon, have been aware for some time of the content of the offensive and obscene remarks by the man the they put into the Speaker’s chair and then fought tooth and nail to keep him there, not once did they tell him it was untenable for him to stay in the position to preside over the Parliament, not once did they ask him to resign, they fought tooth and nail to keep him there.

Not ever again, not now, not ever can the Prime Minister or Nicola Roxon or members of the Labor Party claim they have the moral high ground when it comes to sexism.

LEIGH SALES

Ok. You’ve had plenty of time now to make your point about the Government, and Labor’s views and their use of gender insults, so let me bring you back to Tony Abbott’s remarks. The same remarks I referred to before just going on from that conversation he said that - in terms of the under-representation of women in positions of power, there’s an assumption that that’s a bad thing.

JULIE BISHOP

That’s not a comment about the Prime Minister, that’s not a comment about women.

LEIGH SALES

It’s a comment about women, women in power - an assumption that that’s a bad thing [inaudible] the under-representation of women in power

JULIE BISHOP

He asked the question, is that a bad thing.

LEIGH SALES

[inaudible] in that case

JULIE BISHOP

Leigh, it was part of a debate, a discussion in 1998 as I understand it [inaudible]

LEIGH SALES

Do think Tony Abbott’s views have evolved since then?

JULIE BISHOP

Well, most certainly every body’s views evolve over a number of matters. I’ve worked with Tony Abbott since 1998, ive been a close colleague, I’ve been his junior Minister. We have a very respectful and close professional relationship. I’ve never found him to treat me in any way other than as equal.

LEIGH SALES

But how do you justify these remarks. What about - abortion being the easy way out?

JULIE BISHOP

I believe those remarks have been taken out of context.

LEIGH SALES

How can “abortion being the easy way out” be taken out of context.

JULIE BISHOP

I understand that these remarks were taken out of context.

LEIGH SALES

[inaudible]

JULIE BISHOP

Leigh I haven’t read the speech and I’m not on your program tonight to trawl through every statement that Tony Abbott’s ever made in his life.

LEIGH SALES

Well you have said Mr Abbott’s not sexist so I’d like you to explain how those remarks are not sexist.

JULIE BISHOP

I don’t believe that Tony Abbott’s views on abortion are sexist. He has a different view on abortion than I do, but when he was the Health Minister, at no time did he seek to change the laws in relation to abortion in this country. He may have a personal view that is different to mine, I respect his views , they happen to be different to mine that I hold. That does not make him a sexist at all.

LEIGH SALES

Julie Bishop, we’re out of time unfortunately. Thank you very much for coming in.

JULIE BISHOP

It’s been my pleasure.