Former Foreign Minister Julie Bishop
Former Foreign Minister Julie Bishop Matt Taylor GLA050418BISH

Julie Bishop joins campaign, contradicts Scott Morrison

Scott Morrison joined all the Liberal Party's Western Australian candidates at a rally in Perth this evening - an event which included an exceedingly rare campaign appearance from Julie Bishop.

Speaking to reporters after Mr Morrison's speech, Ms Bishop was full of praise for the man who beat her in a three-way leadership contest to become Prime Minister.

"Scott's been campaigning so well. I'm feeling very confident. I've been saying for a long time that we will win this election," Ms Bishop said.

"I'm not surprised at all. Scott's a very experienced politician and he was a very good treasurer, and he took on the role of Prime Minister in less than ideal circumstances and he's done an exceedingly good job."

But Ms Bishop did noticeably contradict Mr Morrison when she was asked about Australia's relationship with China - a subject on which she's something of an expert, having served as foreign minister for five years.

Earlier today Mr Morrison described China as a "customer" of Australia. Ms Bishop was asked whether she would describe it as a "buyer and customer" relationship.

"Are they our customers?" a reporter asked.

"I don't see it that way at all. I think our relationship with China is one of deep and mutual respect. We are partners. We are trading partners, we have worked together in a whole range of areas. And so the relationship is one of equals," Ms Bishop replied.

Last week the Prime Minister was a little more expansive in his description of the relationship.

"China is an incredibly important country for Australia's future, our relationship with China is of course different to our relationship with the United States, but they are both critical to Australia's future. And we manage that relationship in a very pragmatic way, but one based on our values that we share, and the aspirations that we have for Australia to pursue it's own national interests," Mr Morrison said.

On the topic of foreign policy, Ms Bishop would not explicitly rule out having an interest in replacing Joe Hockey as US ambassador in the next term of parliament.

"I have had the number one diplomat's job in Australia. I was foreign minister for five years, and that's the best job you can have in the foreign service for Australia," she said.

"I've been the foreign minister. I'm not looking to get a government job. I'm very happy to pursue other duties in the private sector."

Asked whether she would explicitly rule it out, she merely repeated that last sentence.

Ms Bishop would not be drawn on what the election would have been like if she and Malcolm Turnbull had remained in control of the party.

"That's a hypothetical. There's no point in looking back, we just look forward. And I think that Scott Morrison will continue to be a very fine Prime Minister," she said.

"I don't do regrets. I'm very relaxed. Very relaxed indeed, and the campaign's gone exceedingly well for the Coalition and I'm looking forward to a strong comeback and a win on Saturday night."


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