GQ&A

CAN­BERRA, SEPTEM­BER 14, 2015. JULIE BISHOP STANDS TO THE LEFT OF THE NEWLYAP­POINTED PRIME MIN­IS­TER – AUS­TRALIA’S 29TH AND FIFTH IN SIX YEARS. HER GO-TO, OC­U­LAR DEATH RAY SHELVED FOR THE MO­MENT, “THE HOUR IS LATE” AND SHE’S BEAM­ING.

GQ (Australia) - - INSIDE - WORDS RICHARD CLUNE PHO­TOG­RA­PHY HUGH STE­WART

Aus­tralia’s For­eign Min­is­ter, Julie Bishop, talks Turn­bull, Tony, and emo­jis.

It’s ob­vi­ous ac­knowl­edge­ment of Bishop’s plea­sure that she’s to again work un­der Mal­colm Turn­bull, a man who’s been a close friend for 30 years; a man who, un­like his pre­de­ces­sor, hasn’t once re­ferred to her as a “girl”. The 59-year-old’s plea­sure is also, surely, wrapped in the sim­ple fact she’s yet again sur­vived Fed­eral Par­lia­ment’s lat­est game of mu­si­cal chairs – eight years and three lead­er­ship spills – to con­tinue as the Lib­eral Party’s deputy leader. That she’s main­tained the po­si­tion speaks loudly of the re­spect she has within the party. It also points to her per­sonal sto­icism, given that her tap­ping Tony Ab­bott on the shoul­der to in­form him that he’d lost ma­jor­ity sup­port of the cab­i­net could have also led to her own pro­fes­sional fall – as both deputy and as for­eign min­is­ter. While Bishop held an in­ter­est in global pol­i­tics from a young age, her early lean­ings to­wards such were put on hold to fol­low law. It was a pro­fes­sion that, in her words, al­lowed her to ame­lio­rate the lives of oth­ers (a cer­tain case against as­bestos vic­tims notwith­stand­ing), the same sen­ti­ment in­form­ing her 1998 de­ci­sion to opt for pre-se­lec­tion in the Perth seat of Curtin. To­day, the Min­is­ter (a ‘call me Julie’ not forth­com­ing) bounds from her Com­mon­wealth car into the GQ stu­dios – her well­doc­u­mented daily run­ning rou­tine ob­vi­ous both in her slen­der frame and en­ergy lev­els. Sit­ting for hair and make-up, she pe­ruses our May is­sue with Turn­bull as cover star. Again she smiles. Small talk cov­ers her day’s du­ties in Sydney’s west and her rea­sons for ap­pear­ing in the pages of GQ Aus­tralia. “Well, it’s a so­phis­ti­cated mag­a­zine which reaches a dif­fer­ent au­di­ence, which is why I was pleased to do it… It’s all about peo­ple un­der­stand­ing who their rep­re­sen­ta­tives are and I want peo­ple to know what my val­ues are, my be­liefs are, and hope­fully give them conf­dence that I’m rep­re­sent­ing them in a way that they would wish.” With that, we be­gin. GQ: Let’s head back to school, Min­is­ter – you were a de­bat­ing champ and school cap­tain, also some­what the sports star. Where did you fit in so­cially – a nerd or were you one of the cool kids? Julie Bishop: I’d say I was one of the cool kids. I played a lot of sport and was also in­volved in drama. What­ever was hap­pen­ing in the school, I was a part of it – I man­aged to do quite well in my stud­ies. GQ: Did you grav­i­tate to­wards the lib­eral arts? JB: I did, sub­jects like an­cient and mod­ern history, lan­guages, geography… I gave up the maths-science side in about Year 11 and went into the arts side of things as I wanted to study law, and at that time it was con­sid­ered ap­pro­pri­ate to have a lib­eral arts back­ground. I ac­tu­ally won a drama prize an au­di­tion with a reper­tory the­atre com­pany in South Aus­tralia and I was quite keen on be­ing in­volved in the the­atre. But I was 17 years old and off on a surfng hol­i­day and I didn’t turn up for the au­di­tion. Life could have been very dif­fer­ent. GQ: Surely, though, there’s enough drama in fed­eral pol­i­tics? JB: Some have likened it to a soap opera, though it’s much more se­ri­ous than that. GQ: Why law at univer­sity?

JB: I’d wanted to be a lawyer from Year 9 or so. I was struck by the idea of help­ing other peo­ple; tak­ing on their prob­lems, be­ing their ad­vo­cate.

GQ: Our uni years were a lit­tle ‘lost’ – yours? JB: I had a great time at univer­sity. It was one of all care, no re­spon­si­bil­ity – and I made the most of it. GQ: Did you avoid ‘in­hal­ing’? JB: Hang on, that’s a dou­ble neg­a­tive – I’ll be care­ful here. No, I didn’t do drugs. It was never part of my so­cial cir­cle, but there was enough al­co­hol for ev­ery­one. GQ: Not to gloss over your suc­cess­ful 20 years in law, where you climbed to man­ag­ing part­ner, but let’s move to your de­ci­sion to turn to pol­i­tics in 1998. We’ve read that this move sur­prised many close friends. JB: It was some time com­ing. I’d wanted to be a diplo­mat early in my twen­ties – it was al­ways some­thing in the back of my mind, some­thing about rep­re­sent­ing Aus­tralia. And there came a point in my le­gal ca­reer where I had a choice to make a change. I went on a sab­bat­i­cal to Har­vard Busi­ness School [and while there] thought I’d love to go into pol­i­tics and ded­i­cate my ef­forts and en­er­gies to our com­mu­nity. I was also in­ter­ested in Aus­tralia’s place in the world… So, I came back and left law and sought to en­ter fed­eral pol­i­tics. I didn’t take a lot of friends into my conf­dence – so some were sur­prised. GQ: And, pol­i­tics is in the Bishop blood, right? JB: Yes, there’s a tra­di­tion of pub­lic ser­vice in the fam­ily – my grand­fa­ther was the lo­cal mayor for about 30 years, my mother was a mayor, and my fam­ily was very in­volved in Lib­eral Party pol­i­tics in South Aus­tralia. It wasn’t some­thing I’d planned to do, but by the time I was ready for a change in ca­reer, it was pol­i­tics that drew me in, and deep down I really hoped I’d end up be­com­ing the for­eign min­is­ter of Aus­tralia. GQ: How would you de­scribe the move from law to pol­i­tics? JB: Chal­leng­ing. It was go­ing from a pri­vate life as a pro­fes­sional woman in Perth to sud­denly be­ing in a very pub­lic role on the na­tional stage. There is a sig­nif­cant in­tru­sion, how­ever I vol­un­teered for this, no­body con­scripted me and so it goes with the ter­ri­tory. GQ: Mov­ing into your time as fed­eral shadow trea­surer – much was made of this and you re­ceived a lot of neg­a­tive press at the time. Was it valid? JB: I think it was a time of great volatil­ity within the party and we needed sta­bil­ity and I went into a role that I wasn’t fa­mil­iar or com­fort­able with… it be­came ap­par­ent, I didn’t need peo­ple to tell me, that I was not in the right role and so I made the de­ci­sion to move. GQ: And so to for­eign af­fairs – four years as shadow min­ster and more than two in gov­ern­ment. Is there a sense of pride at­tached to be­ing Aus­tralia’s first fe­male for­eign min­is­ter? JB: It prob­a­bly means more to oth­ers. There are a num­ber of for­eign min­is­ters and sec­re­taries – Hilary Clin­ton, Madeleine Al­bright, Con­doleezza Rice – so there have been some in­ter­na­tional role mod­els, though I’m pleased to have been the frst woman in Aus­tralia to hold this role. I’m the 38th for­eign min­is­ter in Aus­tralia’s history and the frst woman. GQ: You clearly possess a global view – where did a girl grow­ing up in the Ade­laide Hills pick that up from? JB: As soon as I had enough money and was old enough to travel, I did. At about 17, my sis­ter and I went on our frst over­seas trip. Most of our friends at that time were hop­ing to go to Lon­don, though we de­cided to travel through South-east Asia to Sin­ga­pore, Malaysia, Thai­land, Hong Kong. At that time, 1970, China wasn’t open to the world so we went into the New Ter­ri­to­ries – I was just so smit­ten with other cul­tures and other coun­tries and gain­ing a deeper un­der­stand­ing. GQ: It would have been an eye­open­ing trip at that time? JB: Yes, there was a coup in Bangkok and there was a cur­few. My sis­ter and I were fas­ci­nated by the events that led up to it and what was hap­pen­ing in Thai­land. I also trav­elled a lot dur­ing my le­gal ca­reer. It’s a thrill to be able to do this in the ser­vice of my coun­try. GQ: Let’s talk about Mr Turn­bull – when did you two first meet? JB: I met him in the late ’80s, post his Spy­catcher fame [Turn­bull’s fght for an ex­posé of MI5 and MI6 to be pub­lished]. I was in­stantly struck by his in­tel­lect, charm, conf­dence and his hu­mour, and we’ve been friends ever since. GQ: Why is he the right leader for Aus­tralia? JB: He’s a vi­sion­ary – he has a vi­sion for the coun­try and he’s proven that through­out his pro­fes­sional ca­reer. I re­call when he em­braced the con­cept of the in­ter­net even be­fore many es­tab­lished tech com­pa­nies… GQ: Well, he ‘in­vented’ the in­ter­net ac­cord­ing to Mr Ab­bott. JB: [Laughs] Yes, Mal­colm em­braced the pos­si­bil­i­ties and the po­ten­tial of the in­ter­net by set­ting up one of the frst Aus­tralian in­ter­net ser­vice providers, Oze­mail. It showed he’s able to pick up on trends, that he has an un­der­stand­ing of where the world is head­ing. He also has an enor­mous ap­petite for world af­fairs, he’s amaz­ingly well read and is truly an in­tel­lec­tual. But he also has the tem­per­a­ment for the job now. GQ: He didn’t first time around, as op­po­si­tion leader? JB: Mal­colm’s the frst to say that he’s learnt a great deal. GQ: At var­i­ous stages of last year, ‘pre­ferred PM polls’ had you on equal foot­ing with Turn­bull. Was there ever any gen­uine con­sid­er­a­tion to stand? JB: Of course one could al­ways have am­bi­tions for other roles, but I wanted to be the for­eign min­is­ter and you can’t be both the PM and the for­eign min­is­ter. My col­leagues, I think, see me in that light and I’ve been the con­stant – I’ve been the deputy since 2007. The party needs sta­bil­ity and I hope to pro­vide that. And my in­ter­est lies very much in for­eign pol­icy. GQ: Still, isn’t ev­ery­one’s po­lit­i­cal de­sire to achieve the top of­fice? JB: That’s one of those ac­cepted truths, but it’s rarely tested. And very few peo­ple be­come the prime min­is­ter of Aus­tralia. Mal­colm’s the 29th, so in 114 or so years we’ve [only] had that many and it seems to be be­yond some peo­ple’s com­pre­hen­sion that you could en­ter fed­eral pol­i­tics and as­pire to an­other role. Well, that’s my case. GQ: In Septem­ber last year you had to in­form Tony Ab­bott that he’d lost party sup­port. How dif­fi­cult and emo­tional was that con­ver­sa­tion? JB: On a per­sonal level, it was one of the tough­est things I’ve had to do… I didn’t know the con­se­quence of it. Any­thing could have hap­pened as a re­sult – I could have lost the conf­dence of the party room for do­ing it; I didn’t do num­bers or ring peo­ple. GQ: So why did the party lose con­fi­dence in Ab­bott? JB: I don’t want to go over old ground, I don’t want to be crit­i­cal of pre­vi­ous lead­ers... There was a very pub­lic dis­play of a lack of conf­dence when a num­ber of mem­bers of par­lia­ment ac­tu­ally moved a spill mo­tion [in Fe­bru­ary 2015]. And then he told the party that he would turn it around in six months – from that mo­ment on I think the party room was wait­ing for things to turn around and when they didn’t, they lost conf­dence in him to win the next elec­tion.

GQ: Where do you stand on the knight­ing of Prince Philip in Jan­uary last year – silly move? JB: An in­ter­est­ing de­ci­sion. GQ: The last five years have seen a large amount of pub­lic fatigue at­tached to fed­eral pol­i­tics. Do you feel we’ve turned a cor­ner with the in­stal­la­tion of Turn­bull? JB: I hope so, Mal­colm is a very pos­i­tive per­son and very upbeat. The lead­er­ship of the coun­try can set the tone for the coun­try and his fo­cus on the pos­i­tives and his op­ti­mism is in­fec­tious. The cab­i­net room feels it, the party feels it… the par­lia­ment has changed and the re­port­ing is far more nu­anced and far more pos­i­tive now. [I’m] not suggest­ing they’re be­ing par­ti­san in any way, though there’s a sense of fo­cus­ing on our strengths as a na­tion – and this is a mes­sage I want to take to the world. Aus­tralia is a sig­nif­cant coun­try, our voice counts… Yet there’s a ten­dency to fo­cus on our weak­nesses and I be­lieve that Mal­colm Turn­bull as prime min­is­ter will bring the conf­dence the coun­try de­serves. GQ: Do our over­seas friends still view us as a po­lit­i­cal bas­ket case? JB: It’s been a volatile pe­riod the last six years, there is no ques­tion… Our re­la­tion­ships over­seas are good, though they can al­ways be stronger and that’s what I do, I man­age those re­la­tion­ships with our friends. I be­lieve the more in­te­grated economies are, the less likely there is to be con­flict be­tween coun­tries. It’s not an ab­so­lute rule, though if you’re trad­ing, you’re less likely to be in con­flict with each other. GQ: What’s the key fo­cus for the gov­ern­ment in 2016? JB: We want to build our econ­omy and build more re­silience and strength into it, so that there are job op­por­tu­ni­ties, par­tic­u­larly for young peo­ple… We [also] need to har­ness the cre­ative, in­no­va­tive, en­tre­pre­neur­ial spirit in Aus­tralia, and di­ver­sify. We’re world-renowned as a min­er­als and re­sources ex­porter, an en­ergy su­per­power and we have a frst-class agri­cul­tural sec­tor and ad­vanced man­u­fac­tur­ing. We need to pro­vide an en­vi­ron­ment that en­ables that en­tre­pre­neur­ial spirit to flour­ish and that means tax re­form, fed­er­a­tion re­form [the re­la­tion­ship be­tween state and fed­eral gov­ern­ments], fo­cus­ing on su­per­an­nu­a­tion – the struc­tural ba­sis for a much more flex­i­ble and ag­ile econ­omy. GQ: And where does mar­riage equal­ity sit in the mix? JB: I have an elec­torate that would prob­a­bly be quite evenly di­vided on the is­sue. And that’s why I was so en­thu­si­as­tic about a plebiscite, or some form of pop­u­lar vote. It’s the kind of is­sue that can di­vide, so we want it to be a de­bate that’s much more in­clu­sive. We don’t want it to be a di­vi­sive is­sue, we want peo­ple to have a con­sid­ered, mea­sured dis­cus­sion about it. GQ: And we’re ac­tu­ally mov­ing to­wards that? JB: We’re cer­tainly go­ing to have a plebiscite and Mal­colm Turn­bull has said on many oc­ca­sions that the Aus­tralian peo­ple will be able to have their say and the gov­ern­ment will re­spect the de­ci­sion. GQ: So the plebiscite is a re­al­ity un­der Lib­eral rule? JB: Yes, ab­so­lutely. If you vote for the Lib­eral Party at the next elec­tion you will have a plebiscite. If you vote La­bor you won’t, and it will be left for the politi­cians to de­cide. Prime Min­is­ter Turn­bull has con­frmed there will be a plebiscite in the next par­lia­ment. GQ: And what of a repub­lic – is that a for­got­ten topic of de­bate or is it still on the agenda? JB: I sup­port Aus­tralia be­com­ing a repub­lic at a time when Aus­tralia is ready for it. Our cur­rent sys­tem works well enough – we don’t have a con­sti­tu­tional cri­sis, we are a stable democ­racy… I think the time will come when Aus­tralia will be­come a repub­lic. GQ: Last year we saw a more per­sonal side of you. Sadly it was in re­la­tion to the ex­e­cu­tion of An­drew Chan and Myu­ran Sukumaran in In­done­sia – this ob­vi­ously con­sumed you on a per­sonal level? JB: Aus­tralia op­poses the death penalty here and abroad and when, as for­eign min­is­ter, you’re con­fronted by the pos­si­bil­ity that two Aus­tralian cit­i­zens could be sen­tenced to death in a neigh­bour­ing coun­try, well, it is con­fronting. Both men had been though sig­nif­cant trans­for­ma­tions in their lives… I do not for a mo­ment ex­cuse their crimes – they de­serve to pay for them, but not with their lives. Our con­sul gen­eral went into the jail, she had a phone and I spoke to them both. And I met with their fam­i­lies on oc­ca­sions; put your­self in the shoes of those fam­i­lies, it was im­pos­si­ble not to be at all af­fected by it. GQ: Es­pe­cially when that day came for both men? JB: I was awake all night tak­ing calls from our di­plo­mats who were in In­done­sia. They then rang to say they’d heard the sounds of the fring squad and I felt sick to my stom­ach. GQ: You’re of­ten pre­sented as a stern, if highly in­tel­li­gent, politi­cian. Is that fair? JB: Pol­i­tics is a se­ri­ous busi­ness and you’re deal­ing with peo­ple’s lives in the de­ci­sions you make; your judg­ment calls can af­fect peo­ple’s lives, so I take the role very se­ri­ously. GQ: Do you let your hair down? At times, even in the job – I’m mad on emo­jis and Twit­ter and so­cial me­dia. I like din­ner par­ties and hang­ing out with friends or catching a movie. GQ: Yes, the emo­jis. So it’s about hav­ing some fun? JB: Not only fun but it’s quite chal­leng­ing – one im­age to sum up a range of emo­tions. Some­times words don’t cap­ture a par­tic­u­lar feel­ing but one char­ac­ter says it all. It’s a bit of fun and I think if peo­ple take it too se­ri­ously they’re miss­ing the point com­pletely.

“I WAS AWAKE ALL NIGHT TAK­ING CALLS FROM OUR DI­PLO­MATS IN IN­DONE­SIA. THEY THEN RANG ME TO SAY THEY’D HEARD THE SOUNDS OF THE FIR­ING SQUAD AND I FELT SICK TO MY STOM­ACH.”

GQ: A se­nate com­mit­tee cer­tainly scru­ti­nised it. JB: They spent more time ask­ing about my use of an emoji than they did ques­tion­ing the Depart­ment of For­eign Af­fairs and Trade on na­tional se­cu­rity and for­eign ter­ror­ist fghters. What does that say? GQ: A lot. Though what did that ‘red faced emoji’ mean in re­la­tion to Vladimir Putin? JB: If you look up your emo­ji­pedia it says ‘pout­ing face’… So I don’t know where they got ‘red, an­gry man’ from. GQ: Mr Ab­bott la­belled so­cial me­dia ‘elec­tronic graf­fiti’. That makes you quite the artist? JB: It’s fun and a way of en­gag­ing with peo­ple. Of course I have a se­ri­ous role and there are oc­ca­sions when it’s not ap­pro­pri­ate. But when talk­ing about what you’re do­ing day by day and peo­ple are fol­low­ing you, I think it’s a medium we should em­brace. GQ: Do you look at it for pub­lic opin­ion on an is­sue? JB: My role is to ad­vo­cate poli­cies and why we are im­ple­ment­ing cer­tain ini­tia­tives. When you fnd where [peo­ple] get their news from, you pro­vide the con­tent. The peo­ple are on Twit­ter; I’m on Twit­ter. GQ: We heard a ru­mour that pink Cham­pagne is the go-to Min­is­te­rial tipple? JB: [laughs] Just Cham­pagne, it doesn’t mat­ter about the colour. GQ: And by Cham­pagne we’re in­clud­ing Aus­tralian sparkling? JB: There’s a par­tic­u­lar one – De­vi­a­tion Road, in the Ade­laide Hills – that’s fan­tas­tic, it can com­pete with the best in the world. And Brian Croser’s sparkling too. GQ: Is there any de­gree of anonymity in daily life? JB: Not th­ese days. Ev­ery­body has a mo­bile phone and ev­ery­body wants a selfe. That’s fne, I’m a ser­vant of the pub­lic and if peo­ple want to come up and chat I’m more than happy to do it. GQ: What are the key ar­eas they want to dis­cuss? JB: Con­cerns about na­tional se­cu­rity and the for­eign ter­ror­ist fghters; they’re in­ter­ested to know what the change of lead­er­ship will mean, though they also talk about things that I’ve done, or that I might be do­ing at the time, what­ever is the news of the day. GQ: Is the no­tion of work-life bal­ance plau­si­ble? JB: I have no idea what you’re talk­ing about [laughs]. My life and my work are in­ter­min­gled, I rep­re­sent an elec­torate where I live, where my friends are and where I’ve worked, so if I’m back in Perth and out

and about, you’re in­vari­ably avail­able and ac­ces­si­ble for peo­ple to talk pol­i­tics and raise any is­sues of con­cern. GQ: So you need an un­der­stand­ing part­ner? JB: He is. GQ: What de­fines a gen­tle­man? JB: Re­spect. Re­spect for oth­ers’ opin­ions and other peo­ple. GQ: You keep ex­tremely fit – are we right in think­ing you run more than five kilo­me­tres ev­ery day? JB: Be­tween six and 10, de­pend­ing on the time I have. GQ: Ev­ery day?

JB: Well, I didn’t this morn­ing as I couldn’t ft it in but, yes, ev­ery day. In Perth I love to run along the beach, and over­seas it’s be­come a great thing to do. It helps me get into the time zone, so even if I get in at mid­night I’ll go for a 6am run. It’s also a lovely way to see a city through com­pletely dif­fer­ent eyes. GQ: And no doubt it’s also a chance to switch off? JB: Very much so – I run into par­lia­ment in the morn­ings and it’s a good time to or­der your thoughts and think about the pri­or­i­ties of the day. There’s a clar­ity that comes to your thought process when you’re run­ning – it’s a great way to start the day and it’s now a habit. GQ: Do you ever switch off on the couch in front of the TV? We imag­ine you’re up to date with House of Cards? JB: I’ve watched ev­ery sin­gle episode. I also love Veep, she com­pletely cracks me up and I reckon its closer to the mark than The West Wing or House Of Cards – the lan­guage par­tic­u­larly. Not in my of­fce, ob­vi­ously [laughs]. GQ: Veep’s Selina Meyer is quite al­lur­ing – Min­is­ter, with all due re­spect, how does be­ing the pin-up woman of Aus­tralian pol­i­tics sit with you? JB: Well, that’s the frst time I’ve had it de­scribed that way, so I’ll have to mull over it a while… I am who I am. n

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