Australia’s Former Foreign Minister, Julie Bishop, has announced her retirement from politics, in a blow to the conservative government just months before parliamentary elections.
“I am also proud of the fact that I am the first woman to contest a leadership ballot of the Liberal Party in its 75-year history,’’ she told the parliament on Thursday.
“It is time for a new member to take my place,’’ she said, announcing that she would not contest her seat of Curtin, in Perth, at the next election, scheduled to be held before mid-May.
The 62-year-old is one of the most popular politicians in the ruling Liberal Party and her departure will put further pressure on the minority government, led by Prime Minister Scott Morrison, which is lagging behind the opposition Labor Party in opinion polls.
Bishop was Australia’s first female foreign minister and her party’s deputy leader for over a decade until 2018.
Known for her sharp suits and strict fitness regime, she was first elected to parliament in 1998.
She joins a wave of parliamentarians, mostly female, who have quit or defected from the ruling coalition in recent months, amid allegations of bullying and complaints about the Liberals’ treatment of women.
Bishop stepped down as foreign minister in August after she failed to win the Liberal leadership and the prime ministership in spite of being more popular with the public than her male rivals.
She said it had been an “immense honour” to serve as the Liberal Party’s first female deputy leader, as well as her Perth electorate of Curtin for two decades.
Mr Morrison thanked Ms Bishop for her “tremendous service”, noting “the dignity and grace that she has always demonstrated in every single role she has held”.
Morrison won the contest, which was held after the conservative wing of the party launched a rebellion against former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.