Julie Bishop on cover-up culture in Canberra

Julie Bishop on Canberra’s cover-up culture

Former foreign minister Julie Bishop has added to the claims of cover up culture in Canberra.  Ms Bishop spoke to ABC’s 7.30 program on Monday night and did not hold herself back and openly questioned some of the claims made by various stakeholders having responsibilities having duty of disclosure in relation to the rape allegations.

julie Bishop also spoke about the 31-page letter about the rape allegation against Attorney-General Christian Porter when he was 17, which he categorically denies.

The letter is said to contain a statement from a complainant, detailing her allegations of a rape which she claimed occurred in 1988 in Sydney. The alleged victim reportedly went to police last year but decided to withdraw the complaint and informed the police of that decision in an email. She later took her own life. She was 49.

Last week, outing himself as the minister accused in the rape allegations which were circling the Morrison cabinet, Mr Porter vehemently denied all the allegations during an emotional press conference.

It has been reported some politicians were sent copies of that letter including Prime Minister Scott Morrison who, reportedly – without reading the content of it, forwarded it to the police.

Ms Bishop told 7.30 she was surprised by reports Mr Morrison and Mr Porter had not read the letter detailing the alleged incident.

“I think in order to deny allegations you would need to know the substance of the allegations or at least the detail of the allegations” she said.

Bishop surprised by claim PM was kept in the dark

On Brittany Higgins rape allegations matter, Ms Bishop claimed she was surprised the prime minister had not been told.

“In my experience, an allegation of that nature, a serious indictable offence, would have been brought to the attention of the prime minister immediately,” she said.

“It’s the kind of thing that prime ministers, in my experience, want to know about.”  

Cover-up culture

According to ms Bishop, ‘winning elections’ is the sole aim of political parties of all persuasions and they want to ensure nothing is done which would jeopardize party’s chances at the next election. Ms Bishop said there was a powerful culture within political parties to ensure no individual would do anything to damage a party’s prospects, its image or reputation, leading to a cover-up culture where those who were prone to inappropriate, unprofessional or even illegal behaviour, got a sense of protection.

“Toe the line, don’t rock the boat, don’t do anything that would damage the party’s prospects. Particularly at election time,” she said.

“There’s so much at stake. One party forms government. Ministerial careers are in the balance, marginal seat holders could lose their seat, hundreds of staff jobs are on the line if you lose the election.”

Ms Bishop added this could cause a culture to develop where those who were prone to inappropriate, unprofessional or even illegal behaviour, got a sense of protection.

Happy that she achieved her ultimate goal of becoming the foreign minister of Australia, Ms Bishop said,

“My ambition was to be the foreign minister of Australia, and I served in that role for five years.”

“If their ambition was to thwart my aspirations, then they failed”, Ms Bishop added.