Julie Bishop faces questions about leadership ambitions


THERE has been growing chatter around whether Julie Bishop will take on Malcolm Turnbull for the prime ministership.

The Foreign Minister and current acting Prime Minister is facing growing questions this week about her leadership ambitions including during an interview on 7.30.

But Ms Bishop gave possibly her best response this morning during an appearance on The Today Show.

Host Karl Stefanovic got straight to the point asking: “When are you running?”

To which Ms Bishop, who is known for her love of a morning jog, gave the deadpan response: “Probably later this morning along Cottesloe beach.”

Ha ha. But Malcolm Turnbull is probably not seeing the lighter side of the questioning as speculation grows that he is finished as prime minister.

Monday’s Newspoll had Labor leading the coalition 54-46 per cent in two-party terms, the 22nd poll that Turnbull’s Government has lagged behind Labor.

Mr Turnbull famously used Mr Abbott’s loss of 30 Newspolls in a row to justify his leadership challenge.

The coalition’s primary vote has also dropped from 36 to 35 per cent, while Labor’s remains steady at 37 per cent.

Meanwhile, Ms Bishop’s stocks seem to be improving.

She is now also the favourite with bookies to replace Mr Turnbull, overtaking Immigration Minister Peter Dutton and Mr Abbott, according to Sportsbet’s latest odds.

Ms Bishop’s chances are now rated at $4, down from $8 before her stint as Acting PM.

She is considered the most likely behind Mr Turnbull, who remains favourite at $1.90.

A News Corp online reader poll also found Ms Bishop was the preferred Liberal Party leader.

The online poll, which had more than 2000 votes, revealed she had more than 47 per cent of the online vote. Mr Turnbull had just 12 per cent.

Other contenders Mr Dutton, Treasurer Scott Morrison and Social Services Minister Christian Porter didn’t come close to Ms Bishop.

So far Ms Bishop has batted away leadership speculation.

“I’m very happy doing what I’m doing as foreign minister,” she repeated this morning.

And not everyone believes she has a chance. In a weekend column News Corp’s Andrew Bolt described Ms Bishop as “ephemerally popular, but is also a lightweight whose political judgment seems as lousy as the PM’s”.

Bolt’s verdict was that voters and the Liberal party were stuck with Mr Turnbull.

It’s perhaps cold comfort to the Prime Minister as he comes off a messy week that saw his deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce ruled ineligible to sit in parliament.

Ms Bishop’s ascension into the role of acting prime minister while Mr Turnbull is in Israel for leader-level talks and the centenary of the Battle of Beersheba, gives her a chance to shine.

Time will tell whether she gets a taste for the job.



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