|29th Speaker of the Australian House of Representatives|
12 November 2013 – 2 August 2015
|Preceded by||Anna Burke|
|Succeeded by||Tony Smith|
|Minister for Aged Care|
21 October 1998 – 26 November 2001
|Prime Minister||John Howard|
|Preceded by||Peter Staples|
|Succeeded by||Kevin Andrews|
|Minister for Defence Industry, Science and Personnel|
11 March 1996 – 21 October 1998
|Prime Minister||John Howard|
|Preceded by||Gary Punch|
|Succeeded by||Warren Snowdon|
|Member of the Australian Parliament
26 March 1994
|Preceded by||Jim Carlton|
|Senator for New South Wales|
1 July 1987 – 24 February 1994
|Preceded by||Sir John Carrick|
|Succeeded by||Bob Woods|
|Born||Bronwyn Kathleen Setright
19 October 1942
|Political party||Liberal Party of Australia|
|Spouse(s)||Alan David Bishop (1966–1992, div.)|
|Residence||Newport, New South Wales, Australia|
|Alma mater||University of Sydney (discontinued)|
|Occupation||Solicitor and Company Director|
Bronwyn Kathleen Bishop (née Setright; born 19 October 1942) is an Australian politician who was the 29th Speaker of the House of Representatives, holding the office between 12 November 2013 and 2 August 2015.
Bishop has been a member of the Australian House of Representatives for the Liberal Party since 1994, representing the Division of Mackellar in New South Wales. Earlier, between 1987 and 1994, she represented New South Wales in the Senate. Bishop held portfolios in the outer ministry during the first two terms of the Howard Government, serving as Minister for Defence Industry, Science and Personnel from 1996 to 1998 and as Minister for Aged Care from 1998 to 2001. In October 2014, she surpassed Kathy Sullivan's record for the longest period of parliamentary service by a woman.
From July 2015, Bishop was subject to sustained intense media and public scrutiny regarding her use of parliamentary entitlements, including a helicopter charter to a party fundraiser during her time as speaker. Originally one of her strongest allies, she eventually lost Prime Minister Tony Abbott's support, resigning from the speakership and moving to the backbench on 2 August to be replaced as speaker by Tony Smith.
Early years and education
Bronwyn Kathleen Setright was born on 19 October 1942 in Sydney. Her father, Thomas Francis Setright (1910–1959), was an engineer and her mother was Kathleen Congreve, an opera singer who worked as a dramatic soprano at the Australian Opera Company. As a child, Bishop was sent to singing lessons by her mother.
Bishop was educated at Roseville Public School, completing her primary education in 1954. Bishop undertook a five-year LL.B. program at the University of Sydney. However, she was deemed ineligible to continue after failing a number of subjects multiple times. Bishop failed a total of 11 subjects over six years. In her first year in 1960, she failed all four core subjects. In 1964, she failed four subjects again and repeated them in 1965, in which she failed three again. The policy of the University of Sydney at the time was that a student was required to show cause why they should be allowed to repeat a subject for a third time, and Bishop was deemed ineligible to continue.
During her university years, Bishop was not involved in student politics but was a member of the Killara branch of the Young Liberals. After leaving university, Bishop used the subjects she had previous passed to apply for the Solicitors’ Admission Board and was admitted to practice law as a Solicitor in 1967.
Having formed an ambition to become a politician, she joined the Liberal Party at the age of 17.
Heavily involved in organised politics, Bishop joined Killara Young Liberals in 1961 and during her association with that branch, she became Vice-President. Bishop first became a Liberal Party office-holder in 1973 as President of the Balmoral branch and was later elected as the Chairman of the Liberal Party Convention Committee from 1981 to 1985 and as the first female President of the NSW Liberals from 1985–1987.
After the retirement of Sir John Carrick at the double dissolution of 5 June 1987, Bishop was nominated by the Liberal Party to contest the vacant seat in the Senate for New South Wales at the election on 11 July 1987. She won the seat and her term was deemed to have commenced from 1 July. She was elevated by Andrew Peacock to the shadow ministry in 1989 as Shadow Minister for Public Administration, Federal Affairs and Local Government (1989–1990). She proved an aggressive debater against the Australian Labor Party, particularly with Foreign Minister Gareth Evans, who during one debate in 1992 exclaimed to the chamber "I am reminded of the exchange I heard recently in Parliament House when someone said, `Why do so many people take an instant dislike to Senator Bishop?' to which the answer was, `It saves time'.". She was the first woman to be popularly elected as a Senator for New South Wales.
After the Liberals' defeat at the 1993 election, Bishop began to be seen as a possible leadership candidate, a view she shared. Shortly after the 1993 election, Jim Carlton, the member for Mackellar, resigned. In a move widely seen as furthering her leadership ambitions, Bishop resigned from the Senate on 24 February 1994 to contest the ensuing by-election for the safe Liberal seat. Although she was comfortably elected, her campaign against John Hewson for the Liberal Party leadership faced a setback when she did not poll as well as expected against author and filmmaker Bob Ellis, who ran as an independent in the by-election. When Hewson called a spill for the Liberal leadership in 1994, Bishop opted not to stand as a candidate, and Alexander Downer successfully challenged for the party leadership.
Prior to his ousting by Downer, Hewson brought Bishop back to the frontbench. She had declined a frontbench position from him the previous year, as Shadow Minister for Urban and Regional Strategy.
When Downer became leader, Bishop became Shadow Health Minister, a senior position, but caused controversy on her first day in office by announcing her support for tobacco advertising, drawing criticism from both the Australian Medical Association and her own party, which supported the Keating Government's legislation to prohibit tobacco advertising in 1992. Her remarks were attacked by the then AMA president and soon-to-be Liberal MP for the neighbouring seat of Bradfield, Brendan Nelson, who said that: "Mrs Bishop has a lot to learn about health...there are now more than 50,000 pieces of medical research and literature supporting the view that smoking is injurious to humans." Bishop was dropped from Health and moved to Privatisation and Commonwealth/State Relations (1995–1996).
When the Liberals returned to Government in 1996, Prime Minister John Howard appointed Bishop a Minister in junior portfolios. She was the first Liberal woman from New South Wales to become a minister. She was Minister for Defence Industry, Science and Personnel from 11 March 1996 to 21 October 1998 and Minister for Aged Care from 21 October 1998 to 26 November 2001. It was in this role that she endured her greatest scandal, the kerosene baths controversy of 2000. The revelation that some residents at Melbourne's Riverside Private Nursing Home had suffered blistering after being bathed in a weak kerosene solution as a cure for scabies led to a national outcry over the standards of care maintained by Bishop's department. She was dropped from the ministry after the 2001 election. On 1 January 2001, Bishop was presented with the Centenary Medal "For service to Australian society through parliament and government". In 2004 she campaigned to succeed Neil Andrew as Speaker of the House, but was not successful. In September 2013, Bishop was nominated by incoming Prime Minister Tony Abbott to be the new Speaker of the House.
An affirmed monarchist, Bishop, along with fellow Ministers, Nick Minchin and Tony Abbott supported the 'No' campaign leading up to the failed 1999 Republican referendum and on one occasion spoke to Australians for Constitutional Monarchy, warning of the "Seven deadly myths of the republican debate". On 17 July 1991, in response to the infamous debate on the Nine Network's Midday television show with host Ray Martin, debating on Australia remaining a constitutional monarchy, in a live televised debate with singer Normie Rowe and radio broadcaster Ron Casey, who ended up physically brawling, Bishop issued a media release which said: "It may well have been High Noon on the Midday Show when Ron Casey took a swipe at Normie Rowe but this conduct indicates just how divisive the debate on the Monarchy has become. Not content to see the country on its knees as a result of the recession the Labor Party must be pleased that it is dividing the community on an issue which has absolutely no political relevance."
In August 2005, Bishop called for Muslim headscarves to be banned from public schools, an opinion also expressed by another prominent Liberal backbencher, Sophie Mirabella. However, the Prime Minister, John Howard, said that he did not agree with this view as a ban would be impractical. In November 2005, Bishop expressed the view that "she is opposed to the wearing of the Muslim headscarf, where it does not form part of the school uniform. This is because that in most cases the headscarf is being worn as a sign of defiance and difference between non-Muslim and Muslim students" and then went on to say that she "does not believe that a ban on the Jewish skull cap is necessary, because people of the Jewish faith have not used the skull cap as a way of campaigning against the Australian culture, laws and way of life."
On 21 January 2006, at a Young Liberals convention in Sydney, Bishop declared her intention to introduce a private members bill to make "destroying or violating" the Australian flag a federal offence. Shortly before the Howard Government lost office, Bishop headed the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Family and Human Services, and released the report "The winnable war on drugs: The impact of illicit drug use on families". The report was highly critical of harm minimisation and suggested mandatory adoption of children under 5 years of age whose parents were known to use drugs. The report was widely criticised by a range of organisations such as Family Drug Support, the Australian Democrats and the Australian Drug Foundation for lacking evidence, being ideologically driven, and having the potential to do massive harm to Australia.
In 2006, following a flag-burning incident during the 2005 Cronulla riots and a burnt flag display by a Melbourne artist, Bishop introduced the Protection of the Australian National Flag (Desecration of the Flag) Bill 2006. This bill sought to make it "a criminal offence to wilfully destroy or otherwise mutilate the Flag in circumstances where a reasonable person would infer that the destruction or mutilation is intended publicly to express contempt or disrespect for the Flag or the Australian Nation." The bill received a second reading but subsequently lapsed and did not go to vote in the House of Representatives.
In the 2007 federal election, Bishop was re-elected to her seat with a 0.62-point primary swing and 3.04-point two-party-preferred swing against her on slightly redistributed boundaries. After his appointment as Liberal Leader, Brendan Nelson appointed Bishop to the Shadow Ministry portfolio of Veterans' Affairs.
Nelson bringing back Bishop to the frontbench was in contrast to their past conflict in 1994 when Bishop as Shadow Health Minister defended tobacco advertising which was contrary to the position taken by Nelson, then President of the Australian Medical Association (AMA).
However, after the election of Malcolm Turnbull as leader of the Liberal Party, she was dropped from this portfolio, to return to the backbench. Despite speculation that she would be challenged for preselection in her seat of Mackellar for the next election, this did not eventuate and she later reaffirmed her intention to contest the next election. On 5 May 2009, Bishop criticised Turnbull's leadership, saying that "Malcolm seems to have been strong at the beginning but now he has gone soft." However, with Turnbull's loss of the party leadership and the election of Tony Abbott as his successor, on 8 December 2009 Bishop was appointed as Shadow Minister for Seniors. Bishop was re-elected at the 2010 Election and was appointed to the outer shadow ministry as Shadow Special Minister of State and Shadow Minister for Seniors.
Since October 2014, Bishop has served in the Australian parliament longer than any other woman, outstripping the record of 27 years and 3 months previously held by Kathy Sullivan. In November 2014 Bishop lost her bid for presidency of the Inter-Parliamentary Union.
Speaker of the house
Following the Coalition victory at the federal election on 7 September 2013, Tony Abbott announced Bishop as the Coalition's nominee as next Speaker of the Australian House of Representatives. Bishop was elected as Speaker on 12 November 2013. She was the third woman, and the first non-Labor woman, to hold the post. She opted against wearing the full traditional attire of the Speaker, but instead wore a business suit.
Bishop received significant criticism for her partisanism and claims of bias as speaker. The role of Speaker is Impartial. In her time, Bishop ejected Labor MPs from the house 393 times, but government MPs only 7 times.
Expenses controversy and resignation
In mid-July 2015, Bishop became embroiled in the "Choppergate" expenses scandal surrounding her use of parliamentary travel entitlements that ultimately led to her resignation as Speaker. It had emerged that she had chartered helicopter flights from Melbourne to Geelong and back to attend a state Liberal Party fundraiser on 5 November 2014. The cost of the flights was $5,227.27 for a journey that typically takes an hour each way by road. Bishop refused to resign over the expenses claim, describing it as an "error of judgement" while expressing disappointment that the controversy had become a distraction from the opposition and its policies. However, she agreed to pay back the sum of the helicopter flight plus a penalty of $1,307.
The controversy was fueled by further revelations of spending on travel. In 2014, Bishop and four parliamentary delegates spent $88,084 on a two-week trip to Europe in her bid for presidency of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, including almost $1,000 a day on private limousines. Bishop also incurred costs of over $3,300 for car expenses in order to attend the opera and other arts events from 2010 to 2013 and $800 for flights to the wedding of Sophie Mirabella in Albury.
In response to the controversy, Tony Abbott declared Bishop was on what he termed "probation", calling her behaviour "out of line", though maintaining his confidence in the Speaker. A transcript of Tony Abbott's comments calling for Prime Minister Julia Gillard to make Peter Slipper resign over a travel expenses scandal was also removed from the Liberal Party's website. On 31 July, Tony Abbott announced that the Department of Finance would be reviewing all expenses claimed by Bishop over the past 10 years, including the $800,000 claimed during 2014.
Bowing to political pressure, Bishop resigned the speakership on 2 August 2015 and moved to the backbench. Commentators noted that Prime Minister Abbott would have had to deal with the probability that "a significant number of government MPs would not support her in a no-confidence motion."
Though it was initially speculated that the 73-year-old MP would leave parliament at the next Australian federal election, Bishop announced in December 2015 her intent to recontest her seat of Mackellar, claiming she had been "exonerated" over the "Choppergate" expenses scandal, and that the "threat of terrorism" had convinced her she needs to remain in Parliament. Support from the local Liberal branches in her seat had been "dented" following revelations she voted for Malcolm Turnbull in the September 2015 Liberal leadership spill before unsuccessfully lobbying senior Liberals for a ministry in the Turnbull Government, a charge which a cabinet minister confirmed but was denied by Bishop.
Bishop was born Bronwyn Kathleen Setright, the daughter of opera singer Kathleen Congreve. She enjoys singing and dancing, having appeared in several charity productions including The Sound of Music (as Baroness Elsa), and Grease (as the Headmistress). In 2007, she sang a duet of Irving Berlin's A Couple of Swells with then Health Minister, Tony Abbott, at a fund-raiser in Sydney. Bishop is also a patron of Opera Australia and was 2008 President of the Sydney International Piano Competition Committee.
In 1966, she married (later the Hon.) Alan David Bishop (20 April 1940 – 22 January 2010), with whom she studied law at the University of Sydney. Alan Bishop was a judge of the now defunct Compensation Court and the District Court of New South Wales and was instrumental in the establishment of the WorkCover Authority of New South Wales. He is honoured by the Bishops' alma mater with the Alan Bishop Scholarship for distinguished final-year undergraduate law students. Alan Bishop also served as an alderman of the City of Sydney and was involved in multiple committees and companies, including the public medical research company AGITG.
- Women in the Australian Senate
- Women in the Australian House of Representatives
- Members of the Australian Senate, 1987–1990
- "Hon Bronwyn Bishop MP – Parliament of Australia". Parliament of Australia. Retrieved 25 August 2015.
- Crowe, David (2 August 2015). "Bronwyn Bishop resigns, PM launches review of entitlements". The Australian. Retrieved 3 August 2015.
- "Bronwyn Bishop has never welcomed the kind of scrutiny she applies to others".
- "Bronwyn's Secret Weapon". The Age. 3 July 1993.
- "Full Day Hansard Transcript (Legislative Assembly, 16 March 1994)".
- "Roseville Public School Union".
- "Roseville Public School Union: Memories".
- "Biography for Bishop, the Hon. Bronwyn Kathleen". Parlinfo web. Parliament of Australia. Retrieved 2013-09-20.
- David Leser, Bronwyn Bishop: A Woman in Pursuit of Power (1994, Text Publishing, Melbourne), 21–22.
- Benns, Matthew (March 2013). "Camperdown to Canberra". University of Sydney.
- "Discussion on Bronwyn Bishop's life before politics and nursing homes". Department of Health and Ageing. Australian Government. Retrieved 2009-06-02.
- "First Speech To Parliament – 16/9/1987". Senate first speech. Commonwealth of Australia. 16 September 1987. Retrieved 2013-09-20.
At the age of 17 I decided that I wished to pursue a political career.... Again at the age of 17 I chose to join the Liberal Party.
- "Bishop, Bronwyn". The Australian. 25 March 2002. Archived from the original on 1 August 2008. Retrieved 26 April 2009.
- Wright, Tony (5 September 2008). "Occupants of warm pink chamber can go feral". The Age (Melbourne: Fairfax Media). Retrieved 2008-10-02.
- "QUESTIONS WITHOUT NOTICE - Sexual Harrassment Allegation (Sen. Bishop, Sen. Evans, Sen. Alston, Sen. Bolkus)". Hansard. Parliament of Australia. 18 August 1992. p. 20. Retrieved 7 September 2015.
- "Bishop moves to the back bench". Lateline (Australian Broadcasting Corporation). 23 November 2001. Retrieved 2007-12-12.
- "Smoke Gets in Her Eyes". The Age (Fairfax Media). 27 May 1994. Retrieved 2009-05-26.
- Centenary Medal, 1 January 2001, itsanhonour.gov.au Citation:"For service to Australian society through parliament and government"
- Koutsoukis, Jason (16 November 2004). "Victorian takes Speaker's Chair". The Age (Melbourne: Fairfax Media). Retrieved 2008-10-02.
- Marks, Kathy (8 November 1999). "Australia wakes up to renewed divisions". The Independent (London: Independent Print Limited). Retrieved 2009-04-26.
- "Minister unrepentant over anti-republic stand". ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation). 21 October 1999. Retrieved 2009-04-26.
- Bishop, B. "Debunking the seven deadly myths of the Republican debate:A speech by the Hon. Bronwyn Bishop", 2 February 1999
- "Background Paper 9 1995–96. The Recent Republic Debate – A Chronology". Australian Parliamentary library (Commonwealth of Australia). 10 June 2004. Retrieved 2009-10-28.
- "Australia’s Parliament lifts ban on veiled visitors in public gallery". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 2 August 2015.
- The Sydney Morning Herald 30 August 2005 and 6 September 2005, Global Research 27 September 2005
- Crikey newsletter, 10 November 2005
- "Art prompts call for flag-burning law change". The 7:30 Report (Australian Broadcasting Corporation). 6 February 2006. Retrieved 2009-05-27.
-  – House of Representatives Standing Committee on Family and Human Services report: The Winnable War on Drugs
- Sen. Andrew Murray (2007). Senate Hansard, 18 September 2007, 10:20 pm
- Bishop, Bronwyn (2006). "Protection of the Australian National Flag (Desecration of the Flag) Bill 2006: Explanatory Memorandum" (pdf). Australian House of Representatives. Commonwealth of Australia.
- "Division of Mackellar". 2007 Federal election. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 29 December 2007. Retrieved 2008-10-04.
- "Australian Electoral Commission summary of Mackellar". Federal Election 2007. Australian Electoral Commission. 19 December 2007. Retrieved 2007-12-19.
- "Turnbull picks Julie Bishop to lead attack on Wayne Swan". The Australian (News Limited). 22 September 2008. Retrieved 2008-09-22.
- "Abbott, Bishop safe". The Manly Daily. 23 November 2009. Retrieved 2009-11-30.
- Kerr, Christian; Salusinszky, Imre (5 May 2009). "Bronwyn Bishop takes swipe at 'soft' Malcolm Turnbull". The Australian (News Limited). Retrieved 2009-11-30.[dead link]
- Wilson, Janet, & McCann, Dr Joy (9 July 2014). "Representation of women in Australian parliaments 2014". Parliament of Australia. Retrieved 2014-12-11.
- Sydney Morning Herald 17 October 2014 author Fergus Hunter
- Chang, Caris (16 September 2010). "Bronwyn Bishop will be the Coalition's first female Speaker". Manly Daily (News Corp Australia). Retrieved 2013-09-16.
- "Why Bronwyn Bishop needs to leave the Speaker's chair". SMH. Sydney Morning Herald.
- "Bishop must resign over incompetence, not bias". The Drum. Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
- "Speaker Bronwyn Bishop ejects 400th MP from House of Representatives; Labor raises concerns". ABC News. Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
- Adam Gartrell (19 July 2015). "Bishop's press conference is more evidence she's unfit for the Speaker's chair". Sydney Morning Herald.
- Hurst, Daniel (16 July 2015). "Bronwyn Bishop agrees to pay back cost of $5,000 helicopter trip". The Guardian. Retrieved 22 July 2015.
- Gartrell, Adam (15 July 2015). "Bronwyn Bishop job bid leaves taxpayers with huge expense bill". Sydney Morning Herald (Fairfax Media). Retrieved 22 July 2015.
- Gartrell, Adam (19 July 2015). "Bronwyn Bishop slugs taxpayers $1000 a day for private limo costs". Sydney Morning Herald (Fairfax Media). Retrieved 22 July 2015.
- Robertson, James (22 July 2015). "Bronwyn Bishop expense scandal: Speaker defends trips to the opera". Sydney Morning Herald (Fairfax Media). Retrieved 22 July 2015.
- Chan, Gabrielle (20 July 2015). "Bronwyn Bishop 'on probation' over helicopter flight, says Tony Abbott". The Guardian (Guardian News and Media Limited). Retrieved 22 July 2015.
- "Transcript Of Abbott's Assault On Slipper Over Parly Expenses Removed From Liberal Party Website". 18 July 2015.
- "Tony Abbott Doorstop: Peter Slipper MP". 12 Apr 2012. Archived from the original on 11 May 2012.
- "Bronwyn Bishop expenses scandal: Tony Abbott goes to ground as Speaker finally says sorry". 31 July 2015.
- "Taxpayers cop $800,000 bill for Bronwyn Bishop’s 2014 expenses". 20 July 2015.
- "Bronwyn Bishop resigns as Speaker, Prime Minister Tony Abbott says". ABC News. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 2 August 2015. Retrieved 2 August 2015.
- "Standing by Bronwyn Bishop: How Tony Abbott's stubbornness could have prompted his second brush with political death". Sydney Morning Herald. 3 Aug 2015.
- Bronwyn Bishop wants to stay in Parliament to 'fight terrorism': SMH 10 December 2015
- "Bishop hits right note in musical". The Sun-Herald (Fairfax Media). 24 June 2007. Retrieved 2009-05-19.
- Browne, Rachel (16 May 2009). "Charli plays Sandy on the beach to raise $20,000". The Sydney Morning Herald (Fairfax Media). Retrieved 2009-05-19.
- "Opera Australia annual report 2008" (PDF). Opera Australia. Retrieved 2009-05-26.
- "SIPC Patrons and Friends". Sydney International Piano Competition. Retrieved 2009-05-26.
- Caroline Wilson. (3 July 1993.) Brownyn's Secret Weapon, The Sunday Age.
- "Judge helped start WorkCover". The Sydney Morning Herald. Fairfax Media. 8 March 2010.
- "Alan Bishop Scholarship 2013" (PDF). Sydney Law School.
- "The Alan Bishop Scholarship" (PDF). Sydney Law School.
- "Alan Bishop". Sydney's Alderman.
- "A Mother's Day to remember". work=Woman's Day. 4 May 2008.
- Personal website
- House of Representatives – The Hon Bronwyn Bishop MP
- ABC Q&A – The Hon Bronwyn Bishop MP
- Summary of parliamentary voting for Bronwyn Bishop MP on TheyVoteForYou.org.au
|Parliament of Australia|
Sir John Carrick
|Senator for New South Wales
|Member for Mackellar
|Speaker of the Australian House of Representatives
|Minister for Defence Industry, Science and Personnel
Title next held byWarren Snowdon
as Minister for Defence Science and Personnel
|Minister for Aged Care