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Abbott among his female flock
Leader of the Opposition Tony Abbott visits Julie Bishop's Subiaco office to meet influential women. Picture: Sharon Smith/The West Australian

The penny dropped soon after arriving at the "community morning tea with Tony Abbott" that media had been lured to the latest battlefront in the misogyny wars.

The Liberals wanted another go at rejecting suggestions that the Opposition Leader didn't respect women or treated them differently and, for good measure, they banned men from the function.

Instead, Deputy Opposition Leader Julie Bishop assembled a group she described as "50 shades of women in the Curtin electorate".

Using that particular occasion to reference a book based on one man's enslavement of women may have prompted others to pause and reflect but Ms Bishop didn't skip a beat.

"In these days of wild accusations of sexism and misogyny … I wanted to tell you that I hope to be Australia's first female foreign minister under a Tony Abbott-led government," she said.

Mr Abbott responded with high praise, telling Ms Bishop: "Alexander Downer, watch out. Your record is about to be usurped."

Soon there were prizes on offer - not for the Julie Bishop lookalike competition some thought they had stumbled on - but a raffle with Mr Abbott drawing the ticket.

"I love being a barrel girl," he said.

Ms Bishop congratulated the winner.

"Rhonda Wyllie of the Wyllie Group. Darling, you just need another bottle of Moet," she said.

With that, Mr Abbott mingled with the 50 shades.

If only a blue collar was among those hues, Mr Abbott may have swung a vote.