Julie Bishop has spoken out about the spill week.
Julie Bishop has spoken out about the spill week.

Bishop speaks out on secret messages rumours

JULIE Bishop has spoken out about the tumultous spill week, saying it was "personally devastating" for a number of people.

Speaking to The West Australian, the former Foreign Minister acknowledged she was aware of claims that MPs had used an online messaging app to make her supporters back Scott Morrison over her.

"You would have to ask the individuals involved but it appeared to be a tactic to promote Peter Dutton into the prime ministership, whatever the cost."

Over the weekend, a leaked WhatsApp message thread revealed why Ms Bishop lost out on the top job.

The messages between senior Liberal MPs, broadcast on ABC's Insiders, claimed some politicians were voting for Ms Bishop in the party room ballot as part of a "ruse" to install Mr Dutton, and others politicians were encouraged not to vote for her even if they wanted to.

Leaked screenshots from the group titled "friends for stability" allege Mathias Cormann, whose support of Mr Dutton was pivotal in enabling the leadership spill, had secured votes for Ms Bishop in order to keep Mr Morrison out of the race.

But the conversation between Morrison supporters shows politicians were encouraged to vote for Mr Morrison over Ms Bishop in the first round.

"Cormann rumoured to be putting some WA votes behind Julie Bishop in round 1," a message purporting to be from Infrastructure Minister Paul Fletcher broadcast on Insiders read.

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

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

But in a statement to news.com.au, Senator Cormann said he did no such thing.

"This is 100% incorrect," he said in his response.

Participants in the thread expressed some concern for the former foreign minister, with one suggesting "Someone should tell Julie".

A message apparently sent by Christopher Pyne read: "I have."

"Very respectfully," he added.

WhatsApp messages leaked to Insiders shows votes were directed away from Julie Bishop. Picture: ABCSource:ABC
WhatsApp messages leaked to Insiders shows votes were directed away from Julie Bishop. Picture: ABCSource:ABC

Ms Bishop was knocked out in the first round of voting in what was a three-way battle for the leadership between her, Mr Morrison and Mr Dutton.

She received only 11 votes in the first round, including from ousted prime minister Malcolm Turnbull. None of the votes came from West Australians.

But polls consistently showed Ms Bishop was the most popular Liberal member with the general public.

 

WhatsApp messages leaked to Insiders shows votes were directed away from Julie Bishop. Picture: ABCSource:ABC
WhatsApp messages leaked to Insiders shows votes were directed away from Julie Bishop. Picture: ABCSource:ABC


A News Corp Australia reader poll showed she was overwhelmingly the preferred leader of the Liberal Party, with 38 per cent of votes.

Mr Turnbull was a distant second at 28 per cent.

Likewise, a snap Roy Morgan poll conducted last week gave her a 28-point lead over Opposition leader Bill Shorten.

But evidently, none of that was enough.

Meanwhile, Tony Abbott could not resist a sneaky dig at Malcolm Turnbull when he sat on 2GB this morning.

He said Mr Turnbull "will be remembered mostly for the way he got into office and the way he got out of office".

"Without going over the entrails of last week ... I just think that the whole polity is better off today than it was then."

Former prime minister Tony Abbott leaves the Liberal Party room meeting at Parliament House in Canberra, Friday, August 24, 2018. Malcolm Turnbull has declared the Liberal Party leadership vacant, following a second leadership challenge, this week. (AAP Image/Mick Tsikas) NO ARCHIVING
Former Prime Minister Tony Abbott MICK TSIKAS

He also declared that "the era of the political assassin is over, and thank God for that".

But in a speech given at the Centre for Independent Studies in Sydney later today, Mr Abbott presented a different image of himself - as one who's seemingly above all the sniping and disunity he drove from behind the scenes.

"I want to express my hope and confidence that politics today is in better shape than it was just a few days ago," he said at a speech in Sydney today. "I think our policy will be far less toxic in the near future than it has been in the recent past, and I think that will be good for all of us - certainly good for the Liberal Party and our country."

Speaking on last week's leadership spill, he did say Peter Dutton was "a most reluctant challenger, just as I was back in 2009".

"He was someone who above all else wanted to change policy, not change leader, and I am confident given the remarks of new Prime Minister Scott Morrison, given the ministerial appointments he's made, there will be better policy, a united party and a sharper difference with our opponents," he said.

The ALP has already released an ad, launching an attack on new Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

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