Julie Bishop. Pic: Jane Dempster/The Australian.
Julie Bishop. Pic: Jane Dempster/The Australian.

‘What a slap in the face’: Bishop’s insult

JULIE Bishop's older sister has admitted she is "actually glad" the former foreign minister did not win the Liberal leadership.

Ms Bishop was eliminated in the first round of the three-way contest to replace Malcolm Turnbull in August.

While her sister MaryLou was disappointed on her behalf, the elder Bishop sibling has told The Australian she was also relieved, citing the "brutality" Julie would have faced as prime minister.

"It's the brutality. The brutality of politics is dreadful," Ms Bishop said.

"It's soul-destroying. For that reason I am glad that she wasn't voted for. But for her personally, what a slap in the face.

"I could not believe it. Julie has done so well and just worked so hard and there are a whole heap of political people that I am really angry with."

Ms Bishop said she would "have a lot of difficulty" deciding who to vote for at the next election after witnessing the treatment of her sister.

The elder Bishop, 66, is a local government councillor in South Australia, and is currently running for re-election. She has also run a company that sells surgical devices for the last 26 years.

Will Julie Bishop seek re-election as well? That still isn't clear. MaryLou told the newspaper Julie was still "weighing up her options", despite some tentative public indications she would recontest the seat of Curtin.

"It will be very interesting to see what Julie does and where she goes," Ms Bishop said.

"I don't know if she will stand again at the next election. From my point of view, I wouldn't. I'd say, 'Bugger the lot of you.' She'll want time to think about what she's going to do."

She did say her sister would not resign and cause a by-election. Mr Turnbull's old seat is up for grabs on Saturday, in a contest that could rob the government of its one-seat majority in parliament.

Many Australians were baffled when it emerged that Julie Bishop had received just 11 votes in the Liberal Party spill, placing her way behind Peter Dutton and eventual winner Scott Morrison even though she was more popular than either of them with the public.

A leaked WhatsApp thread of messages between senior Liberal MPs later revealed she had been the victim of cold, calculating tactics.

Screenshots from the group called "friends for stability" showed MPs being urged to vote for Mr Morrison, even if they truly supported Ms Bishop, because of fears she would lose to Peter Dutton if she made it to the second round.

"(Mathias) Cormann rumoured to be putting some WA votes behind Julie Bishop in round one," Infrastructure Minister Paul Fletcher said.

"Be aware that this is a ruse trying to get her ahead of Morrison so he drops out and his votes go to Dutton.

"Despite our hearts tugging us to Julie we need to vote with our heads for Scott in round one."

Mr Cormann told news.com.au the idea that he was boosting Ms Bishop to help Mr Dutton win the leadership was "100 per cent incorrect".

Participants in the message thread expressed concern for Ms Bishop.

"Someone should tell Julie," one member said.

"I have. Very respectfully," replied Christopher Pyne.

Barrie Cassidy, the host of the ABC's Insiders program and the man who revealed the messages, said Ms Bishop was "entitled to be embarrassed and angry".

"In the end, she was a victim of tactics and I suppose that helps to explain why she's less than impressed with her colleagues," he said at the time.

It seems her sister was equally unimpressed.