Julie Bishop says the culture in Canberra needs to change. Picture: ABC
Julie Bishop says the culture in Canberra needs to change. Picture: ABC

‘Big swinging d**ks’ tried to ruin Bishop

Julie Bishop has shut down a group of Liberal MPs dubbed the "big swinging d**ks" who she says tried to stop her career in its tracks.

Speaking on ABC 7.30, Ms Bishop was probed about whether she was aware of the group that former Liberal minister Sharman Stone recently claimed had sought to shut down the former foreign affairs minister's career.

"I believe it was the 'big swinging d**ks'. So there was obviously an overexcited imagination on the part of some, I would suggest," Ms Bishop said.

"Nobody self-identified to me, thank goodness for that. But if they were seeking to block my aspirations, well, they didn't succeed because my ambition was to be the foreign minister of Australia, and I'm very proud to say that I served in that role for five years.

"And likewise I was deputy leader of the party for 11 years. So if their ambition was to thwart my aspirations, then they failed."

Host Leigh Sales questioned Ms Bishop about several topics, including the culture in federal parliament and alleged rape of former Liberal party staffer Brittany Higgins as well as the historical rape claims against Attorney-General Christian Porter.

Ms Bishop said an inquest into the death of the South Australian woman who accused Mr Porter of rape was a "next logical step".

Former foreign affairs minister Julie Bishop addresses the alleged toxic culture in parliament. Picture: ABC
Former foreign affairs minister Julie Bishop addresses the alleged toxic culture in parliament. Picture: ABC

"It's within the criminal system, there are checks and balances, there are statutory powers, it has legal standing and so that is the next step, and I understand from media reporting that that's what the family would welcome," she said.

Ms Bishop also referenced the inquiry into the handling of Ms Higgins's allegations and said she was surprised no one told the Prime Minister about the claims.

"In my experience, an allegation of that nature, a serious indictable offence, would have been brought to the attention of the Prime Minister immediately and handled by Prime Minister and Cabinet," she said.

"It's the kind of information that prime ministers in my experience want to know about."

Ms Bishop was asked about Defence Minister Linda Reynolds' handling of Ms Higgins's case.

"As somebody who has employed many people over many, many years, if someone had come to me with an allegation of rape that occurred, as it turned out in my office but in a workplace for which I'm responsible, I would have felt a duty not only to that person but to others in the workplace to inform the police," she said.

Julie Bishop was questioned about the handling of Brittany Higgins’s allegations.
Julie Bishop was questioned about the handling of Brittany Higgins’s allegations.

She also weighed in on the culture within Canberra's Parliament House and said she was not surprised some women chose not to go public or to police.

"There's a powerful culture within all political parties to ensure that no individual does anything that would damage the party's prospects, the party's image or its reputation, particularly at election time,'' Ms Bishop said, adding there's a low tolerance for mistakes.

"There's so much at stake."

But she acknowledged things needed to change, particularly in regard to attitudes toward women and confessed a culture had developed over many years.

"If the events of the last few weeks haven't led political parties to embrace change, I don't know what has to happen," she said.

"A culture has developed over many years. I think it's embedded in parliament because the environment, the conventions, the protocols, were all established at a time when there were no women in parliament or very few women in parliament."

Julie Bishop said she was surprised the Prime Minister was told not about the allegations. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Joel Carrett
Julie Bishop said she was surprised the Prime Minister was told not about the allegations. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Joel Carrett

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg was queried on breakfast television about Ms Bishop's comments and whether the culture needed to change within parliament.

"Well, there certainly is a need to improve and change the culture in parliament … that is why the Prime Minister has reached across the political divide, that is why the sex discrimination commissioner (Kate Jenkins) has been put to work," he told the Today show.

Derryn Hinch was also asked about the "big swinging d**k" club and agreed Ms Bishop had no support.

"I am very fond of Julie Bishop. But, you are right, she had no support, not even in Western Australia. There must have been something there as well," he said.

"She was always the bridesmaid, never the bride, but I think she would have made a great governor-general if we had to have one."

Originally published as 'Big swinging d**ks' tried to ruin Bishop