‘Vicious’ question time hurts politicians the most: Julie Bishop

Julie Bishop has decried the barrage of “vicious behaviour” on show in question time, saying the parliamentary theatrics are doing the greatest damage to politicians’ reputations.

In an interview with the Nine Network’s 60 Minutes program, Ms Bishop also said the bar had been lowered on the grounds for MPs removing a prime minister with each successive coup, stretching back to Kevin Rudd’s toppling in 2010.

“Now it’s easier to remove a prime minister because people are not afraid of the consequences as they once were,” she said in a segment that did not go to air.

“The idea of removing John Howard during his 11 years did enter some peoples’ minds. But they dismissed it because the consequences would be too great. But now, it’s happened far too many times and I think the public are responding.”

The revolving door at the prime minister’s office was hurting Australia’s image.

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“I’ve had many calls from my counterpart Foreign Ministers who very politely asking why I’m no longer the Foreign Minister and what happened to the Prime Minister? They have been some rather unkind comments about Australia being the Italy of the South Pacific and the coup capital of the world,” Ms Bishop said.  

Ms Bishop said the law and politics were both adversarial professions but the behaviour in question time would not be tolerated in a courtroom, admitting she had gone too far at times.

“I think the question time probably does more damage to the reputation of the political class than any other issue,” she said.

“There’s far too much throwing of insults, and vicious behaviour, name calling, and the like. And the public see that as no better than schoolchildren.”

Amid the renewed focus on the lack of women in Coalition ranks and claims female MPs have been bullied, Ms Bishop said she believed targets were an appropriate mechanism to boost female representation.

“I have been in a cabinet where I was the only female. And then five female colleagues joined me and there were vastly different discussions and debates,” she said.

Last month’s leadership upheaval has had financial consequences for the Liberal Party, with Perth property developer and Financial Review Rich Lister Nigel Satterley vowing to pull funding from the central branch of the Liberal Party, instead funnelling fundraising efforts to individual candidates such as Ms Bishop.

“We will do things [fundraising] where it goes to good people like Julie Bishop,” Mr Satterley said.

Mr Satterley has been scathing of the role Mathias Cormann played in the leadership spill, noting he is being referred to in political circles as the “Canberra Cockroach”.

He said the impact of the efforts to install Peter Dutton would hurt the Liberals in WA.

“It will restrict money going into the central fund,” Mr Satterley said.

Mr Satterley took a similar decision in the lead up to last year’s West Australian election after former premier Colin Barnett lost the support of the state’s biggest and most influential business leaders.

The party’s fundraising efforts in WA have been dealt a significant blow with businesswoman Danielle Blain considering her role in the party. Ms Blain, one of the top fundraisers in the state, was snubbed for the role of party president for Nick Greiner last year.

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