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Australia’s former FM announces retirement from politics



Former Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop

Australia’s former FM announces retirement from politics

Canberra, Feb. 21, 2019 (Xinhua/NNN) Former Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has announced she is quitting politics.

Bishop, who served as Australia’s first female minister for Foreign Affairs under two prime ministers between 2013 and 2018, made the shock announcement that she would not contest May general elections on Thursday.

She was the deputy leader of the Liberal Party between 2007 and 2018, the latter five years of which the party was in government and ran for leadership of the party after former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull was deposed in August 2018.

After she was eliminated in the first round of the leadership ballot she resigned as a minister but said would remain in politics.

However, while addressing the parliament, she promised to reconsider her future and wanted to pursue a career outside of politics.

“It has been an immense honour to be the longest serving Member for Curtin and also to be the deputy leader of the Liberal Party, the first female to hold the role, for 11 years, over half my entire political career,’’ she said.

“I am also proud of the fact that I am the first woman to contest a leadership ballot of the Liberal Party in its 75-year history.’’

She said she had come to the view that the incumbent Liberal-National party coalition would win the election, clearing the way for her to step away from politics.

“It is evident that the policy platform that we will take to the next election is crystallising based on the very firm foundations.

“Foundations of our unrelenting focus on prudent management of our national finances, so that we can afford the services that Australians need.

“It is time for a new member to take my place,’’ she said.

Scott Morrison, who won the August 2018 leadership ballot and was sworn in as Australia’s 30th prime minister, paid tribute to Bishop and her “tremendous service to her country.’’

“Her passion that she has always brought to her role, the dignity and grace that she has always demonstrated in every single role she has held,’’ he said.

“Her successor will have big shoes to fill, and we know that Julie has the best shoes in Parliament.’’

Bishop, who worked as a lawyer before entering politics, previously served as the minister for ageing, minister for women and minister for education and science in the latter years of John Howard’s 11 years as prime minister.

Turnbull, who was prime minister between 2015 and 2018, acknowledged Bishop for her “service to our nation and our party and, above all, your friendship over so many years.’’

“You have been our finest foreign minister, eloquent, elegant and always courageous advancing our national interest in these challenging times,’’ he wrote in a post on social media.

Bill Shorten, leader of the opposition Australian Labour Party, said while they held different political views there was no denial of  Bishop’s status as a “trailblaser,’’ describing her announcement as “the end of an era.’’

“I saw her steely determination in international forums to help pursue justice, and she was very strong,’’ he said. (Xinhua/NNN)



Edited by Abigael Joshua/Silas Nwoha

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