Oops. Seems like all of us took Julie Bishop for granted.
Now that the long-serving Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister has done what anyone in their right mind would do e.g. packed her bags and said goodbye to the circus - we’re all starting to realise that she was the one person who could have cleaned up this mess.
And if her party colleagues have a brain between them, they’ll be coming to the same thudding realisation.
She was always there, the calm right hand to whichever blustering blowhard held the top job - Brendan Nelson, Tony Abbott, Malcolm Turnbull.
She travelled quietly but effectively around the globe as Foreign Minister, putting out whatever fires had to be quenched, either by tough, measured diplomacy or by that famous death stare.
We assumed we’d always have her on hand in one role or another, keeping the fools in check.
Big mistake. Huge.
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Why on earth would we think anyone would stay on under these circumstances?
What a callous display of contempt and disrespect her party showed to both her and the Australian people when she only received 11 votes in the leadership ballot, despite her overwhelming popularity with voters.
40 per cent of respondents in a News Corp poll put her as preferred PM when it looked like that could be a possibility.
Today’s Newspoll had her outclassing all the other contenders, with 29 per cent of voters saying they’d wanted to see her in the top job - more than the man who’s currently sitting in the chair.
We so wanted her to be waiting, watching and wrangling behind the scenes. But it wasn’t to be.
Last week, when it looked like J-Bish had a legitimate chance to snatch the top job, I characterised her as a calculating schemer, sharpening her claws on the sidelines as the blokes tore each other to shreds.
It may have seemed gendered to paint her as a sinister assassin but why should it be? That’s the way almost all her male colleagues have grabbed power. Why shouldn’t she do it in the same way if that’s the direction she wanted to go?
But what was almost certainly gendered was the fact that she wasn’t given a chance of any sort by her Liberal party colleagues. The jostling was confined to the thuggish old white men. She was never considered a serious contender. Unsurprising from a party that has a real issue with attracting and retaining female members. Just 22 per cent of its Federal members are female.
And so when the boys’ club froze her out, she did what anyone with a sane bone in their body would do - she left them to it. And even though we wish she’d hung in to inject the place with a bit of class and calm, it’s ironically exactly this logical, level-headed decision which has made many of us realise what a solid player she was.
Marie Claire readers expressed their disappointment on Instagram.
“Just shows the depth of her character refusing to be a part of the new circus” wrote @_glow360
“A very sad day in Australian politics, we will miss you @juliebishopmp you are an amazing role model,” said @wendydh71
“Such a deep disappointment that after all of this week’s upheaval embarrassment & blatant selfish ambition,” said @josieandjones. “We then lose the poise & calm of our nation.”
The Labor Party can’t contain its disdain either. “Their strongest performer, most popular minister, and best fundraiser, completely disrespected by a bunch of blokes with half her intellect,” sneered Labor MP Claire O’Neill. “Let’s see how they get on without her.’’
Here’s an idea, Ms Bishop. Take a break and then jump over to the other side. Many of your views were decidedly left-leaning anyway (we know you hate Dutton’s racism and you were pro-same sex marriage just for staters).
The Labor Party seems to quite like having women around the joint - with 45 per cent of its Federal members having two x chromosomes compared to the one in five of your formal party.
We think they’d welcome you with open arms.
And wouldn’t that stick it up the bungling boys who were too wrapped up in their squabbles to see the value of the women who was right under their noses the entire time.