So, Julie Bishop took her partner to work with her yesterday.

Tanya Plibersek has called it an “odd look”.

For Julie Bishop, it was Take Your Boyfriend To Work Day.

And let’s face it, if we had a job like Julie Bishop’s, and a boyfriend like David Panton, we might be tempted to make every day TYBTWD.

Well, maybe not every day. Maybe not the day when you have to walk into your boss’s office and tell him he’s getting fired. That would be an awkward conversation. For everyone. But certainly, definitely on the days when you get to go and sit on the UN General Assembly in New York City, and THE POPE is speaking. Because, let’s face it, he can’t be shopping and sightseeing all day, every day. We bet the property developer has been up and down the Empire State a few times.

Mind you, Mr Panton looks here a little like he might rather be shopping at Saks:

Julie Bishop sunrise
David Panton sits with Foreign Minister Julie Bishop at the UN in New York yesterday. Picture: Sunrise, Channel Seven.

So the Foreign Minister took her partner to work with her, and now she’s getting thrown a lot of shade. Not least from the Opposition, whose junior spokesman for Foreign Affairs Matt Thistlethwaite, told the Daily Telegraph:

“I’ve never seen anything like this before.

“Ms Bishop says she regularly asks ‘friends and constituents’ to sit next to her at the United Nations. Who are they and how do they qualify for this?

“Is it more important for the Minister’s friends to sit at the UN than Australia’s Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the United Nations?”

Even Tanya Plibersek called it an “odd look” for Panton to be at the table.

Perks of the job? Julie Bishop, David Panton and his two daughters have dinner with celebrity chef Heston Blumenthal. Picture: Instagram.

Labor, you see, haven’t forgotten that Ms Bishop was less than kind when a former Foreign Minister, Bob Carr, took his wife with him on a trip to the UN.

Although Helen Carr sat in the public gallery, not at the Big Kids’ table, when she visited the UN in 2012, Ms Bishop made a point of it, stating, according to the Sydney Morning Herald:

“It is not common practice for a foreign minister or a secretary of state to travel with a spouse for the business part of a visit.

“I guess what’s quite concerning is it is against the government’s own ministerial guidelines.”

“They specifically state as a general rule a minister should not be accompanied by their spouse on official overseas travel and they can only do it with the prime minister’s approval.”

It’s not just Labor, though, who have a problem with Ms Bishop taking Patton with her to such an important meeting. The tabloid press are a bit excited about it, too, with headlines yelling WHAT WAS HER BOYFRIEND DOING THERE? in bold type caps.

Ms Bishop is representing Australia at the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit because our new Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull opted to stay in Australia and bed down his job. Would such a fuss been made if Lucy Turnbull was sitting next to him at the Assembly table?

Quite possibly.



These are not positions that are easy to come by, especially on a day when THE POPE is in the House, and the presence of any spouse, male, female would doubtless raise some eyebrows, quite so close to the seat of power.

But there’s no doubt we love to get particularly worked up about the “boyfriends” of our prominent women. ‘Consort’ still isn’t a title that commands much respect, and the savaging that former Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s partner Tim Mathieson met at the hands of the press was unprecedented.

Is it because they’re not married that we feel free to put the boot in?

Is it because deep down in the national psyche we’re still uncomfortable with seeing a man playing “second fiddle” to a powerful woman?

Or is it just that none of us can understand why you’d ever want to go to work with your partner and sit next to them snoozing while they have high-level discussions with people you’ve never met or heard of?

Either way, it’s safe to assume that Ms Bishop was still able to do her job with her partner sitting next to her.

It takes more than a chiseled jaw to take her laser-like focus off the matter in hand.

But maybe, next time, a boat trip around the Statue Of Liberty might be a less controversial choice.

Are you troubled by the Foreign Minister taking her partner to work?