Bishop to stay in parliament, calls for ‘significant’ spending on Pacific aid

Former Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop. Picture: FT FILE

CANBERRA, 29 AUGUST 2018 (AAP) – Former Australian foreign minister Julie Bishop says she will remain in parliament as a backbencher, despite her failed leadership bid.

“I’m optimistic about my future, whatever it may hold,” Bishop told reporters.

Bishop, 62, only received 11 votes in the spill that was eventually won by Scott Morrison, but she said she was comfortable with her decisions.

“I had to make a number of what some might say were life-changing decisions without giving them my usual due regard for the consequences.”

There was speculation she would resign at the next election and was being considered for the position of the next Governor-General.

But Bishop said she would continue to represent her constituents.

Asked whether she would consider returning to cabinet after the next election or even another tilt at the leadership, Bishop said it was too early to say.

“I will certainly have plenty of time to consider my options and reflect on what has been an extraordinary time.”

Bishop gave some parting thoughts on foreign policy, calling for significant spending on development in the Pacific.

The government boosted the proportion of the aid budget spent in the region in the 2018 Budget, in a move seen as a counter to rising Chinese influence in the region.

“We must ensure that the Pacific is safe and prosperous and devote a significant amount of our aid budget to the Pacific,” Bishop told reporters at Parliament House.

She said her role in fighting for justice for the victims of the ill-fated MH17 was the most emotional moment of her life.

She said she was confident new foreign affairs minister Marise Payne would continue the fight.

Turnbull on Sunday described Bishop as Australia’s finest foreign minister and thanked her for her loyalty and friendship.

“She has been and remains an inspiring role model for women here and around the world,” he tweeted.

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