SYDNEY—Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said on Aug. 26 she has resigned from new Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s Cabinet, two days after a bruising leadership battle that toppled former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull.
Bishop announced she would move to the backbench and had not yet decided whether to contest the next election, which is due by May 2019. That decision could have serious implications for Morrison’s government, which has a parliamentary majority of only one seat.
Morrison emerged as the winner of Friday’s party-room vote to replace Turnbull after a week of internal chaos for the country’s right of center Liberal Party. The result marked the emergence of Australia’s sixth prime minister in less than 10 years.
He took over as leader of the Liberal Party, the senior partner in a Liberal-National coalition that has consistently trailed the opposition left-leaning Labor party in opinion polls in recent months.
Bishop contested Friday’s vote but was eliminated in the first round, with Morrison then emerging as a surprise compromise winner over Peter Dutton, Turnbull’s conservative challenger who brought the leadership crisis to a head earlier in the week.
“I will remain on the backbench as a strong voice for Western Australia,” Bishop said in a statement soon after she arrived back in her home state.
Today I advised the Prime Minister that I will be resigning from my Cabinet position as Minister for Foreign Affairs.
It has been an honour. pic.twitter.com/v5ueRw5W5L
— Julie Bishop (@JulieBishopMP) August 26, 2018
The possibility that Bishop could leave parliament before the next election will be a major concern for Morrison, Turnbull’s former treasurer, because it opens the possibility of another by-election being held for her seat.
His party will already have to contest a by-election for Turnbull’s harbourside electorate in Sydney, traditionally a safe Liberal seat. Turnbull’s resignation from parliament was expected in the coming week.
Morrison has spent his first two full days in power working on a new Cabinet. His Liberal deputy and former energy and environment minister Josh Frydenburg will take over as treasurer. Former Defence Minister Marise Payne has been appointed as Australia’s new Minister of Foreign Affairs.
By Alison Bevege