But we rarely hear much about women leading the way on the other side of politics.
Julie Bishop is the Deputy Leader of the Opposition and Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs. And she’s also a Mamamia reader and today we’re talking to her about politics, her famous ‘death stare’ and what it’s like to work with Tony Abbott.
MM: There’s a clear community perception about Tony Abbott. How do you find working with him – how does it compare to other liberal leaders you’ve worked with in the past?
JB: I don’t accept there is a clear community perception of Tony Abbott as people I meet express a wide range of views.
I have worked closely with Tony Abbott for almost 15 years and I have a constructive and professional working relationship with him. We work well together and respect each other’s views. He is full of ideas with a sharp mind and bubbling with energy.
I have worked with a number of Liberal leaders in government and in opposition and while each has their own particular leadership style, Tony has been a particularly effective team leader.
MM: Julia Gillard’s recent Question Time speech has received worldwide coverage and opened up a dialogue on issues of sexism and misogyny in Australia. Regardless of whether you agreed with the speech in its context, do you believe there is an attitude of sexism present in politics, the media or any other public spheres here in Australia? Have you experienced it personally?
JB: I found her claim that Tony Abbott is a ‘misogynist’ – that he hates women – deeply offensive. Knowing Tony and his wife Margie, his daughters, his sisters, his mother, and some of his close female friends and colleagues, I thought it was an appalling claim to make and I wish Julia Gillard would withdraw it.
Of course sexism exists in sections of Australian society. Throughout my career I have tried to rise above it and set an example to others by not giving it any credibility and not complaining about it.
MM: Regardless of whether the perception is true, it still exists. How do you think the coalition will handle this?
JB: I don’t accept there is a single perception about Tony Abbott but I acknowledge that the Labor Party has focused their attention on attacking the man rather than his policies.
The Coalition will continue to focus on policies that we will release prior to the next election providing our vision for a better future for our nation.
MM: How did you become interested in politics in the first place? Was there a particular issue you were passionate about as a young politician?