Former Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has launched a blistering attack on the workplace culture of Federal Parliament, revealing that a group of male Liberal MPs called themselves the “big swinging d**** club.”
Speaking to 7.30 Report host Leigh Sales on Monday night, the former deputy leader said the group of male MPs had failed to “thwart” her aspirations.
“No-one self-identified to me (as a member of the club),” she said.
“My ambition was to be the foreign minister of Australia, and I served in that role for five years.
“And likewise I was deputy leader of the party for 11 years.
“If their ambition was to thwart my aspirations, they failed.”
Bishop also discussed the rape allegation against Attorney-General Christian Porter, saying it was a “logical step” to have a coronial inquest into the death of the woman who made the accusations.
Porter has vigorously denied the allegations.
“This is such a difficult area and I feel so unspeakably sad for everyone involved,” she said.
“There are families and friends who are still suffering and there will be trauma for some time.
“The challenge of course is that the allegations are historic, that the woman who made the allegations took her own life, and now a serving cabinet minister has been informed that the police investigation is at an end.
“So, there are no answers.”
Bishop said she had not heard about the allegations until “about six months ago” from an “informal source.”
Talking about the culture within federal politics, Bishop said she understood why someone working within Parliament might choose not to go public with an allegation of misconduct.
“There’s a powerful culture within all political parties to ensure that no individual does anything that would damage the party’s prospects, the party’s image, or its reputation, especially at election time,” she said.
“There’s so much at stake.
“This culture has developed where there’s a very low tolerance for mistakes, that people are encouraged not to do anything or say anything that is out of line with the party’s prospects.
“Paradoxically, it can mean a culture develops whereby those who are prone to inappropriate or unprofessional or even illegal behaviour get a sense of protection.
“They know that people won’t complain because that would damage the party, it would damage the party’s prospects.
“This is across Parliament.
“It makes it a very unusual workplace in that regard.”
Last week Bishop slammed the handling of Brittany Higgins’ allegation that she was raped inside Parliament House in a candid interview with Sam Armytage.
In the interview for the ‘Something to Talk About’ podcast on Stellar, Bishop criticised the government’s response to the scandals.
She said the incidents had left her “feeling empty”.
“We should be shocked,” she said.
“(Parliament House) should be the model workplace.
‘(Parliament House) should be the model workplace … that’s where standards should be set.’
“The people who are in Parliament House are the lawmakers, they are the legislators and that’s where standards should be set.
“And sadly, that’s not the case.
“I’ve said previously that there’s behaviour that goes there that wouldn’t be tolerated in the private sector.
“And I was talking about question time, let alone some of the allegations coming out now.
“I was talking about the verbal abuse, and the shouting, and the nasty behaviour that goes on.”
Since retiring from political life in 2019, Bishop has taken on a variety of roles.
She is on the board of professional services company Palladium Group and took up the position of chancellor of Australian National University early last year.
After Bishop announced her retirement, Scott Morrison described her as “a classy individual,” applauding the “dignity and grace that she has always demonstrated in every single role she has held.”
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