Julie Bishop has rejected claims she betrayed Tony Abbott by failing to give him a heads up he was facing the axe.
In an interview on Channel Ten’s The Project on Tuesday night, host Waleed Aly grilled the Foreign Minister after she revealed she had known “in the days beforehand” that Malcolm Turnbull was going to challenge Mr Abbott for the top job.
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When asked why she hadn’t informed Mr Abbott straight away, Ms Bishop said she had been waiting for it to be “confirmed by others.”
"I provide the information when I think it's at a point where the Prime Minister must know. But I am not the only person who provides the Prime Minister with advice and information," Ms Bishop said.
Co-host Steve Price then joined in the assault, asking Ms Bishop whether Mr Abbott would feel let down by her actions: “You are his deputy. Someone tells you that they are about to knife him. You don't pass it on?"
A visibly tired Ms Bishop responded “that isn’t how it worked.”
“I believed that [Mr Abbott] was still being giving time, that no challenge would succeed but then when people came to see me who had been Tony Abbott's supporters and said that they no longer had confidence in his leadership, when those people told me, I knew that [he] no longer enjoyed the confidence of the majority of the party room.”
Ms Bishop told Mr Abbott before question time on Monday that he no longer had the support of cabinet ministers and that he could either resign or call on a ballot.
Many commentators believe her decision to withdraw support for Mr Abbott and endorse Mr Turnbull had considerable sway over the ballot outcome.
Morning news break – September 15