CHECKMATE: Turnbull will have to sacrifice his Bishop to get back in the game


How is it possible that a highly accomplished, well presented person in the form of Julie Bishop has emerged as the biggest joke in Australian politics? Is this just another case of politics being absurdly tough and cruel?

The Sydney Morning Herald today stuck the boot in, reporting on dissatisfaction over her woeful performance as Shadow Treasurer. Yesterday, it was Steve Lewis in his nationally syndicated column in News Ltd. publications.

It might not shock you to learn that when scribes in the Gallery write these kind of pieces at the same time that there’s a co-ordinated campaign against her from someone determined to move her on.

Bishop’s supporters – usually WA MP’s and a few who enjoy her flirting attentions – blame pushy Sydney spiv, Rudd’s one-time mate and Liberal Lefty Joe Hockey for hanging around the Gallery like a bad smell and trying to “white-ant” her.

But to be fair, he’s had plenty of material.

Liberal sources remind us that on paper, Julie Bishop should have been a tremendous success as Liberal Deputy Leader. A senior lawyer from a big national law firm (managing partner of Clayton Utz no less), she looks the part, reputedly an assiduous networker and serious internal political player in the West, a former cabinet minister, she has a very strong CV. On paper, she’s perfect.

In practice, she’s unfit to speak for the Liberal Party on economic matters. She’s just not up to it.
She says stupid, ill-considered things. All the time.

Bishop said the government’s policy in response to the looming recession ought to have been to “sit and wait to see”. There is a huge issue about the timing of the stimulus. But that’s a pretty stupid way of putting it. It sounded dumb. A consistent theme, as we’ll see.

The former big law firm partner who probably parted with a job with a net present value at the time in the millions to go into politics most of the time appears like a total nuff nuff.

She acts inappropriately in the house, complete with catty hand gestures and face-pulling of a kind not even allowed in state environment minister Gavin Jennings office.

Her few questions in QT rarely trouble the government at all. Often times, she doesn’t ask anything. Her performance is so bad it apparently led one of the disrespectful surly Gallery bad-asses to ask:

“Are you a shadow Treasurer or a shadow?”

Nasty but fair in the circumstances.

We’re sure she’s smart – she couldn’t have been managing partner at Clayton Utz otherwise one concludes – but she acts so dumb.

There’ve been more embarrassments than showing up to one of Danny Nalliah’s Catch the Fire services wearing pink hot pants. Embarrassments over on-again off-again strategies over Workchoices changes.

A disturbingly embarrassing performance on Good News Week where she admitted the following according to one observer:
Paul (McDermott) then asked Julie what’s the most embarrassing thing she will admit on TV and she told a very weird story about being the youngest sister and one day her 2 oldest sisters were on the swings and wouldn’t let Julie have a turn no matter how much she she cried or screamed so she went to shed and grabbed an axe and started hacking at the swings. Her mum came out and said “Julie put the axe down, girls get off the swings. This prompted Claire Hooper to say “I hope Malcolm knows this story”

An axe attack? Jeez and I thought my sister was mean to me… Hopefully the Shadow won’t fess up to any arson offences, in the current climate.

It’s sad.

Even sadder were the two outrageous incidents of plagiarism that Bishop and her staff engaged in and were caught within the space of a month.

She blamed her staff, that’s what good staff are there for, as Gordon Lennox could testify (insider’s joke there).

But if she can’t govern her small staff as Shadow Treasurer, how can she govern our $1.2 trillion economy?

In the Google age, plagiarism is so easy to detect and commit that it is becoming the exclusive province of the completely reckless or psychotic who want to be caught and punished. Learn to paraphrase, people, it is the lifeblood of modern journalism. Except here, of course. We are yet to find authors with sufficient wit and refinement worthy of giving our CTRL-X CTRL-V love to just yet. Enough about me, back to Barbie.

For a while, leaks were coming the Opposition’s way from Treasury. They’re drying up now. Did any of them get sent to the Shadow Treasurer? Nope. According to Liberal sources, they say not one went her way. They clearly don’t ever anticipate her ever being their Minister anytime soon.

Malcolm Turnbull has kept emphasising the benefits of bipartisanship. Bishop when asked about it said bi-partisanship was “over-rated.”

Malcolm Turnbull says not unreasonably there’s no evidence the cash splash before Christmas for pensioners created a single job. Bishop told Laurie Oakes though that she thought giving them money “would stimulate the economy, that’s true.”

Perhaps she’d be able to shine in a less demanding portfolio than Treasury. She only seemed to take the gig in the first place to prove that she was a serious player. All she proved is how unforgiving and cruel public life can be.

Despite having everything going for her, she looks totally out of her depth.

She is the Liberals most senior woman and will therefore always be compared with Labor’s most senior woman Gillard, who we say with little enthusiasm usually appears like the most assured, confident and competent of all the ministers.

Partly that’s a function of her choosing her portfolios well.

She basically chose everything she was interested in and had a strong background in, industrial relations, education and various do-gooder policy areas called social inclusion.

She stuck to her strengths and looks so masterful in Question Time, it’s almost Thatcheresque. (High praise, at least here)

She didn’t feel the need to prove her manhood by taking on Treasury, a portfolio that made even Paul Keating look a bit clueless in his first six months, it is said.

He went on to become the most radically reforming economic minister we’ve probably ever had of course but what he made look easy is clearly beyond most of us mere mortals.

Wayne Swan is one of the smartest people in Canberra and Treasury has tested him, especially initially. Time will tell whether he’s got it right.

But Bishop has been nothing less than a rolled-gold, absolute disaster from the start. And she’s got progressively worse and more embarrassing with each passing day.

Hockey has been agitating for the gig, so maybe that means he’ll miss out.

He’s also from Sydney so appointing him might make the Libs look a little Sin-City centric with both Mal of the eastern burbs and Joe of the north shore taking on the two most senior roles.

Conventional wisdom says Andrew Robb, but he’s such a dour and ordinary chap in our opinion. And he has a weird hair-cut that we believe has been in part inspired by an episode of the Monkees, a show mercifully no longer televised.

Robb is a safe bet in a way but we think – well we admit we usually always think – it’s time for a gamble. Go hard or go home.

We say that if you want someone with the hide of a rhino, an occasionally adept turn of phrase and a slightly chilling Aryan appearance that might scare Labor straight, Turnbull should turn to the rising star Tony Smith.

Smith worked for Peter Costello for a very long time and knows the Treasury gig like the back of his hand. He is indeed the Shadow Assistant Treasurer, a rather pointless role for him unless it’s to prepare him for something bigger.

Bishop has to go. If Cossie doesn’t want it and of course he doesn’t, he wants to be Leader again when Malcolm stumbles, then the answer is Smith.

A younger pugilist than prize fighter Swan, he’s not afraid to go low to win while looking all pious and serious while doing so.

In fact those who know Smith’s mongrel well say that a Mike Tyson style ear-bite wouldn’t be completely out of the question. He’s bad to the bone.

With an election potentially as early as this year, a looming recession that at this stage perversely appears to be helping the incumbent and polls showing the Libs could go backwards even in the large Labor crater left in NSW by an unpopular and occasionally sadly farcical ALP regime, it might be that Turnbull needs to skip a generation to find some people with real hunger to snatch government back right now.

He probably won’t – he demoted Smith last reshuffle after all – but he should.

The biggest risk is not to take any.

And if he doesn’t or can’t or won’t get rid of his Bishop, he’ll end up looking like a hopeless pawn constrained by a narrow party room win in an Opposition that still hasn’t processed that real pain and sacrifice is almost always a condition precedent to victory, in any pursuit.

Shortly after being elected Bishop told the ABC’s Insiders that she’d just moved into the Deputy Leader of the Opposition’s office:

MICHAEL BOWERS: Well look, it’s been a great pleasure talking to you this morning. Thanks very much for taking the time and letting us in. It’s a bit minimalist, I’ve got to say. It feels like you haven’t sort of moved in properly yet.

JULIE BISHOP: I’m getting used to it, but only for a short while.

Possibly prophetic words. For all the wrong reasons.



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21 responses to “CHECKMATE: Turnbull will have to sacrifice his Bishop to get back in the game

  1. anon

    It doesn’t matter how good someone’s cv is on paper, it’s what happens in practise that counts. No finer example than queen cat bishop.

  2. Anonymous

    More like unless you are male and boorish you won’t seem “tough” enough.

    Club Fed is still a man’s game.

  3. Tomato Source

    Competence doesn’t count for much if you are sleeping your way to the top.

    I hear Alex Downer was a strong supporter of Julie B

  4. Fatty Doyle

    I had heard that Jules bangs like the Dunny Door in a Cyclone. Victor do you have her mobile no?

  5. Anonymous

    The woman is a total cow. I have never seen a more cold & dispassionate woman in my entire life. Have you watched her poker face during this bushfire crisis? The axe story is very telling. As for being a managing partner of a big law firm? So what! Being a big right wing law firm does not make you good, it just makes you immoral. The CV does not fit the real world, it just fits a facist.

  6. RDR

    Yes do you have her mobile number? I’d like to txt her.

  7. Anonymous

    Mmmm Julie I want you down on me ….

  8. anon

    The best political operator of our time had no formal background either at a tertiary level or high business level (KNF was a small business). Kennett was simply born with a talent, the skill of the politic. Some are born with smaller degrees of the skill, i.e. Julie?* (*although this is not yet known as as is always the case, time will tell) and some aren’t born with it but are programmed by others (family, friends, party powerbrokers) to obtain standing within public service. The latter almost usually occurs within the ALP more so the Liberal party. The point being that those that have no natural talent but excel in politics sooner or later fail when the big time presents itself and the politic calls for real leadership.

  9. Kennett

    I had experience with women like her, whilst I was a Brothel Inspector.

  10. Blood Bath

    Andrew: Julie would eat you for breakfast – anyday!

    She can easily survive VexSmears, but she will have trouble with the backstabbing Shrek, the Mad Monk and Throat Slasher Andrew Robb.

    My guess is she has enough ammo to give the pretenders a big burst or two. Big Mal has told the bad boys to get in line. I reckon they’ll quieten down.

  11. Ted Rules OK

    Victorian Opposition Leader Ted Bailleau is looking comfortable and well in charge. Ludicrous attempts at mischief from this blog have achieved zilch.

    Ted is King of all he surveys!

  12. I think Julia is a dud

    if she was so god as do-gooder policies, why is it that not one policy or one action has come out of the Social Inclusion Unit – talk of a complete waste of public money – even eddy everywhere is on it – another dud – all show – no action

  13. Natasha The Despoiler

    The Liberal Party has no liberals left in it. Julie Bishop is an excellent example.

    The Liberals would be better off promoting women’s rights, rather than promoting right wing women.

  14. disenfranchised

    The axe should have fallen on her Chief of Staff over the plagiarism matter. It didn’t and reflected poorly on her ability to separate personal matters from management requirements. Don’t try to blame her colleagues for her own poor behaviour and lack of management ethics. She must go.

  15. Anon

    The comments about Tony Smith and his political style are for the most part correct – he does operate on the ‘mongrel’ principle, but gets it wrong most of the time – politically and factually.

    This combination is disastrous in any portfolio.

    The uproarious laughter that ensued when he earnestly and ‘righteously’ questioned Wayne Swan about identifying a single country where one off stimulus payments had been effective – was just embarassing to watch.

    Perhaps Tonys’ ideological blinkers prevented him from absorbing the facts about the previous stimulus package and job preservation. This was silly, given that the BCA and ACCI (amongst others) pointed out the benefits to Australia of this, and argued strongly for the passing of the latest measures.

    Tony Smith has never actually worked in the real world of business – and cannot understand why business do not adhere to his personal credo inspired by Milton Friedman and other economic rationalists.

    Tony Smith as Treasurer would get the Libs out of the frying pan, but straight into the fire – a very bad move indeed.

  16. Natasha The Despoiler

    Yes Honeys… correct analysis of the situation is what is required here.

    When a political party ignores its’ core constituency, it is on the fast track to irrelevance.

    The business sector (agribusiness, small business, big business and the financial sectors) were all shocked by the blind ideology of the Liberal Party with regard to stimulus 1 & 2, and said so, to no avail.

    If this had been a Labor Opposition, the unions would have sought to influence and persuade – and failing this, would use their institutional leverage within the ALP to replace the incumbent MPs to achieve a more realistic, acceptable position and result.

    Business do not possess the same leverage powers within the Liberal organisation, but you can be assured that they will use all informal means at their disposal to change Liberal personnel in the coming years.

    This much needed reality check for the Liberal Party will not happen quickly – and Labor know this.

    The Rudd Government will continue to usurp the conservative base given this unsatisfactory state of affairs – while the Liberals wallow in the mire of permanent opposition status – reaping what they themselves have sown.

  17. Natasha The Despoiler

    Conservatives or liberals honey???

  18. AKD

    “Honeys”!? I have nothing but contempt for you, Natasha.

    Darlings is a much better term than honeys.

  19. Natasha The Despoiler

    You are definitely not a honey or a darling… AKD, I will just have to struggle on with your contempt upon my shoulder – worn as a badge of honor, you lowlife extreme right conservative wrecker of a once proud party!!!

    Watch your morally bankrupt philosophical affliction burn!

  20. dumbo bimbo bishop

    she loves to preen herself just ask the apec delegates who attended the sydney event. 45 minutes of pure preening from the bishop, not even john howards impending death couldn’t stop her preening. a fuckin embarassment to australia. she needs a good sausaging, she’s got far tou much time to look at herself!

  21. The smartest dumbarse in politics.

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