Julie Bishop: I had nothing to do with Abbott's knifing

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop hits back over revelations that her chief of staff met with MPs plotting to overthrow then Prime Minister Tony Abbott
Foreign Minister Julie Bishop hits back over revelations that her chief of staff met with MPs plotting to overthrow then Prime Minister Tony Abbott Brenda Strong

DEPUTY Liberal leader Julie Bishop says she had nothing to do with the plot that ousted Tony Abbott out of the country's top job.

The Foreign Minister this morning convened a hasty press conference to explain what she knew about her chief of staff's attendance at a leadership change meeting the night before Mr Abbott was dumped as prime minister.

Ms Bishop was forced onto the front foot after the details of the meeting were revealed in Wayne Errington and Peter van Onselen's new book Battleground.

She said she thought her key advisor - Murray Hansen - was having drinks at the home of Liberal MP Peter Hendy.

"I was aware (Mr Hansen) was attending at Peter Hendy's house," Ms Bishop told journalists.

"It is part of my job to be in touch with members of the back bench, either through my staff or personally.

"When I learned who was there on the Monday morning and when cabinet ministers came to see me I made the first opportunity available to see the prime minister."

Ms Bishop deflected rumblings from her colleagues -  including dumped frontbencher Senator Eric Abetz and Immigration Minister Peter Dutton - about her role in Mr Abbott's ousting.

"Nothing that has come out in this story contradicts anything that I have said publicly," she said.

"It completely aligns with what I have said about this matter from the outset that once I was aware that the prime minister at the time had lost the confidence of a majority of the cabinet room and a majority of his party, I spoke to him about it immediately."

Mr Hendy is staying tight-lipped about the September 13  pre-leadership spill meeting.

"What counts is what happened on Monday, the relevant date when Malcolm Turnbull went in and saw Tony Abbott and I think he was very, very upfront in presenting a case of why there needed to be a change of leadership and that's what happened and now we're getting on with," Mr Hendy told the ABC.

Mr Dutton said Ms Bishop owed a "special duty of care" to the party's leader.

"It's a serious suggestion," he said.

"Everybody wants to get behind Malcolm Turnbull so we can win the next election.

"Obviously the deputy leader in the party owes a special duty of care and a special loyalty to the leader and I don't even know if this is true, no doubt Julie Bishop will clarify the situation."

Senator Abetz, whose job was downgraded when Mr Turnbull became PM, said he thought Ms Bishop should know what her chief of staff was up to.

"When I was a minister I would never have countenanced my chief of staff going to such a meeting without my imprimatur and approval," he said.

"So I think a question does need to be answered whether the chief of staff was there on a frolic of his own or with the imprimatur of the deputy leader."

Meanwhile, Treasurer Scott Morrison has thrown his support behind Ms Bishop.

"As the Foreign Minister said, she was getting about her job," he said.

"She has always been one who had her ear tightly attuned to all colleagues."


Topics:  editors picks julie bishop

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