The long career of 'incredible trailblazer' Julie Bishop


Julie Bishop's sparkly red shoes were one of the defining images of last year's Liberal leadership spill and the former foreign minister also dazzled on the world stage with her "dignity and grace".

For many, Julie Bishop is the best leader the Liberal Party never had. But now, after almost 21 years in Parliament, the former Liberal deputy leader has announced her retirement from federal politics. 

Politicians from both sides of the aisle have commended the 62-year-old's achievements, commenting on her class, kindness and strength as a leader.

“Whoever replaces Julie Bishop will have big shoes to fill and we all know Julie has the best shoes in Parliament,” Prime Minister Scott Morison wrote following the announcement. 

Julie Bishop
Member for Curtin Julie Bishop is embraced by Minister for Jobs Kelly ODwyer after Ms Bishop's announcement.

Where it all began

Ms Bishop entered politics as the member for Curtin in 1998. She has held the Perth electorate ever since.

Before politics, she studied law at Adelaide University and practised as a solicitor and barrister. Years later, her role defending building product company CSR from compensation claims by asbestos victims would come under fire from Labor. 

"It has been an immense honour to be the longest serving Member for Curtin and also to be the deputy leader of the Liberal Party, the first female to hold the role, [and] for 11 years, over half my entire political career," she told Parliament on Thursday. 

Five years later, she was appointed to the frontbench by John Howard, taking the position of minister for ageing. Under the Howard Government, she also held the positions of minister for women and minister for education. 

Quickly climbing the ranks, she served as deputy leader of the Liberal Party for the last 11 years, taking up the role following the Howard Government’s defeat in 2007.

Tony Abbott and Julie Bishop pose for the camera in 2010.
Tony Abbott and Julie Bishop pose for the camera in 2010.

Eleven months later, when Malcolm Turnbull took over Liberal leadership, she took over the shadow treasury role, a portfolio where she was widely considered a failure. But, her best moments were yet to come. 

First ever female foreign minister

Many of Ms Bishop’s most significant achievements occurred during her time as Australia's first female foreign minister - a position she held from 2013 until August last year, when she resigned from cabinet following a failed bid for leadership.

In this portfolio, she reaped the benefits of Labor's lobbying for a United Nations Security Council seat, making the most of it to tackle issues including Iran, Islamic State's rise in Iraq and Syria and shaming Russia over the MH17 tragedy.

Opposition leader Bill Shorten commended Ms Bishop’s actions during the MH17 atrocity on Thursday, describing her “calm, composure and kindness” when communicating with the families of the 38 Australians killed when the flight was shot down over eastern Ukraine.

Then foreign minister Julie Bishop speaks during Question Time in 2017.
Then foreign minister Julie Bishop speaks during Question Time in 2017.

Ms Bishop has also been widely lauded for her representation of Australia at the United Nations Security Council in 2014, where she negotiated access to the MH17 crash site. She also played a key role in healing damage to Australia's relationship with Indonesia caused by Labor's live cattle controversy, boat turnbacks and the Indonesian president phone tapping scandal. 

A leader and a friend

Tributes to the former foreign minister didn't end with her career achievements. Minister for women Kelly O’Dwyer described her as “an incredible trailblazer and a beautiful friend." 

Mr Morrison told Parliament Ms Bishop is “an incredibly classy individual”, touching on the "dignity and grace that she has always demonstrated in every single role she has held.”

In a tweet, Mr Turnbull thanked his former deputy for her "friendship over so many years".

Julie Bishop's shoes are seen as she speaks after the 2018 Liberal leadership spill.
Julie Bishop's shoes are seen as she speaks after the 2018 Liberal leadership spill.

Labor frontbencher Penny Wong also acknowledged Ms Bishop’s service to the nation.

Ms Bishop is widely known for her steely stare and for taking daily runs even whilst travelling overseas. She is also renowned as a great campaigner and fundraiser within the Liberal party.

A striking sense of style, her ruby red shoes became one of the defining images of the 2018 leadership spill. When asked after her failed bid whether she believed the Liberal Party would ever elect a popular female leader, her response was simple:

"When we find one, I'm sure we will."

With AAP

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