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Julie Bishop leaves door open to leadership tilt


Former foreign minister Julie Bishop is staying in parliament and has not ruled out vying for the Liberal leadership again in the future.

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The Perth MP, who will sit on the backbench as the member for Curtin, has pointedly refused to rule out returning to a senior position or even the leadership.

“It’s far too early for me to even contemplate what I might do,” Bishop told reporters in Canberra today.

“But I will certainly have plenty of time to consider my options and reflect on what has been an extraordinary time.”

In a surprising twist to last week’s leadership crisis, Bishop has bucked widespread speculation she would immediately leave parliament, “as I have the overwhelming support of my constituents”.

“I’m optimistic about my future, whatever it may hold.”

The 62-year-old launched a failed bid to replace Malcolm Turnbull as prime minister on Friday, being knocked out in the first round of voting for the Liberal leadership.

She quit as foreign minister on Sunday after five years in the job and more than a decade as the Liberals’ deputy leader.

Asked if the Liberal Party could bring itself to elect a popular female leader, Bishop said: “When we find one, I’m sure they will”.

Bishop said she wants her successor Marise Payne to pursue justice for the families of the 38 Australians killed when Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was shot down over Ukraine.

“It was the most emotional moment of my life,” she said.

“I want to ensure that the people for whom we fought do get justice.”

On foreign affairs, Bishop urged Australia to devote a significant part of the country’s aid budget to the Pacific.

“I believe every dollar of foreign aid invested wisely, effectively and efficiently is of benefit to our nation” she said.

She also nominated fighting protectionism, pushing for a strong and prosperous Indo-Pacific region and promoting the rules-based international order among the nation’s other priorities.

Bishop warned against following the lead of some of her conservative colleagues, who want Australia to abandon its Paris Agreement climate change targets.

“Australia has a very high standing as a nation that keeps its commitments and is part of the overall global effort for better outcomes for the world,” she said.

“When we sign a treaty, partners should be able to rely upon us. If we have doubts about it, we should have reservations, and that’s the way smart politicians would operate.”


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