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May 26, 2010

Greg Sheridan was right! About Julie Bishop that is…

Julie Bishop stuffed up Treasury, and now she's stuffed up Foreign Affairs. Luckily Tony Abbott is on the ball in that portfolio...

Bernard Keane — Politics Editor

Bernard Keane

Politics Editor

What’s the point of Julie Bishop’s political existence?


Scroll back 15 months, to February last year, when she gracefully exited the shadow Treasurership under pressure from some less-than-graceful male colleagues. Admittedly, she’d made a hash of the position, and in record time, but she was still deputy leader, so she needed a senior portfolio.  So she was hidden in Foreign Affairs, where usually only Greg Sheridan actually notices if you stuff up.

In fact the principle task of a Coalition foreign affairs spokesperson, either in Government or Opposition, is simple: keep The Australian happy, which means pretty much keeping Greg Sheridan and Paul Kelly happy.

Problem was, she did stuff up, and Greg Sheridan noticed. In August, in the sort of language Sheridan usually reserved for the limp-wristed shillyshalling foreign policy Leftariat, he excoriated her over the Opposition’s handling of the Stern Hu matter, saying of the Coalition “it has probably for the moment definitively forfeited the right to be taken seriously as an alternative government.”

In case you were left wondering, Sheridan emphasised the point, calling Bishop’s response “internally contradictory, unprincipled, amoral beyond even the exigencies of parliamentary hypocrisy and profoundly stupid. Bishop was a dud shadow treasurer and is now a dud foreign affairs spokeswoman.”

Bishop had followed first Andrew Robb, and then Helen Coonan, in the role. Robb was the only frontbencher to lay a glove on Rudd early in the term, but then was moved to climate change by Malcolm Turnbull. Coonan barely had time to get her feet under the desk before she was moved to make way for Bishop.

Now not merely has Bishop managed to reveal confidential information about national security matters, she’s made herself look a prize goose. Her defence is that she didn’t understand the question.The exchange went:

Bishop: “It would be naive to think that Israel was the only country in the world that has used forged passports, including Australian passports, for security operations.”

Tim Lester: “What – we do?”

Bishop: “Yes.”

Quite what part of “What – we do?” isn’t clear is something of a mystery.

A defence along the lines of “I was a prize dill overplaying my hand as always and I’ll try to exercise better judgement in the future” might at least have earned her some Abbott-style “hey at least I admit I lie under pressure” points.

It was a red-letter day for the Coalition on foreign policy because Tony Abbott addressed the Asialink National Forum here in Canberra yesterday, along with the Prime Minister. Asialink is a Melbourne-based centre for promoting Asian engagement.

While Rudd offered his usual foreign policy boilerplate, Abbott chose to use the forum to tear into Labor, assailing Paul Keating’s focus on Asia, celebrating John Howard’s foreign policy skills, and attacking Rudd over people smuggling, refusing to sell uranium to India and Rudd’s Asia Pacific Community proposal. Abbott accused Rudd of “unilaterally-conceived utopian visions”, “giving up” on APEC, and blamed him for failing to reverse the trend of fewer Australian schoolchildren learning a second language.

It’s not the first time Abbott has felt the need to launch partisan attacks over foreign policy. He used President Yudhoyono’s address to Federal Parliament in March to talk about the increase in people smuggling and damn with faint praise Rudd’s engagement with Indonesia “rather than nebulous new communities.”

It doesn’t matter a great deal in the scheme of things, really, but it’s a subtle indicator both of Tony Abbott’s view of foreign policy and what sort of foreign policy focus he’d have if he ever became Prime Minister.

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84 thoughts on “Greg Sheridan was right! About Julie Bishop that is…

  1. deccles

    I wonder if Julie Bishop can spell potato ala Dan Quayle?

  2. Michael


    Not one word in today’s Rudd Promotion Column “RPC” is incorrect.
    Tony talks Foreign Policy like a true Statesman
    Rudd talks bullshit and turns bright pink

    And let’s hope it stays that way until Election ’10

  3. shepherdmarilyn

    I do wish they would stop whining about the non-existent people smuggling. It is not people smuggling to seek asylum, something the major parties have decided to ignore.

    Abbott is a blustering clown but the Howard mob did use false documents to deport innocent people to leave them to die in the wrong countries.

    Vivian Alvarez was sent to Manila and abandoned after saying she was Australian – DFAT and DIAC used a false document to do it.

    Many refugees have been deported on unsigned, illegal documents and sent to the wrong countries on them.

    Many have been killed after being sent away on these bogus documents and many have come back to us like boomerangs.

    How short are our media memories that they don’t remember the investigations by Margot O’Neill and the Edmund Rice Centre – it wasn’t that long ago.

    It was less than 6 years since Andra Jackson discovered the Bakhtiyari family were deported to Pakistan without permission from Pakistan or with any documents.

    They were dumped in the snows of Rawalipindi to die like dogs on the sides of the road. It was sheer guts that saw them survive 4 years in jail here followed by being deported from a hot summer to a freezing winter.

  4. cmagree

    Julie Bishop is where she is because the Liberal Party doesn’t have an affirmative action policy for women and therefore finds it hard to attract intellectually able women (not that I’m letting Gillard, Roxon and Wong etc off the hook for their willingness to support absurd policies).

  5. philllip

    I find it somewhat ironic that if Bishop wa an Israeli citizen and had revealed the same things about Israel’s intelligence activities she would now be languishing in a jail cell awaiting trial and almost certainly a long prison sentence and retrictions on her movemebts for the rest of her life.

    Yet the Liberal Party is more than happy to defend anything that Israel does.

  6. David Sanderson

    Julie does not need a foreign policy. She has the death stare and used to proper effect it could rid us of all the Kim Jong-il’s in the world.

  7. klewso

    The trouble for “Abbott’s Rabbits” seems to be that in their urgency to play “Mr Popularity” Rudd (because of the sort of figures he’s maintained, against any of their leaders, ever), and not the ball, is forgetting “there’s a country to run, and alternate policies and a tempered approach could come in handy”?
    As if there are brownie points for attacking Rudd’s “teflon” with your genitals, while the world revolves around thirty second sound-bites.
    And now the Bishop is wanting to use the Abbott’s “beat of atonement (? is that what he said? I had eye-liner in my ears)” defence?

  8. David Sanderson

    Whatever happened to all the soft-sell stories you used to see about Bishop ten years ago? The ones that would extol her brilliance and charm and her passionate convictions about something or other. She was supposed to be the Mrs Liberal, storming in from the west, who would overturn the stuffy Liberal patriarchy, but in a ladylike way.

    Don’t tell me it was all complete and utter bullshit!

    How very disappointing, I would so like to be able to trust journalists who write this sort of pap.

  9. jenauthor

    @ Michael
    “Tony talks Foreign Policy like a true Statesman
    Rudd talks bullshit and turns bright pink
    And let’s hope it stays that way until Election ‘10”

    Can I ask, Michael, what drugs you are taking? Cause they surely are causing a strange kind of psychosis.

  10. Michael


    Isn’t it interesting how the hairy crotched feminists will launch their sinewy bodies at anyone from the Right who dares misspeak of all things female and yet you can patronize & demean women (Julia Bishop) in the most vile manner without the Witches Of Eastwick raising their voice one decibel. Their policy is “I may spew my hot bile in your face at the first sign of any attempt by a man to express an opinion on women – but I will defend until my death the exemption available to the Left”
    F#@k*ng hypocrites!

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