Julie Bishop says she still does not have an answer as to why her Liberal colleagues dumped Malcolm Turnbull and backed claims by the former prime minister he had the momentum to win the election.
Speaking ahead of a trip to the Middle East where she is set co-chair a major international forum, the former foreign minister also signalled opposition to Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s proposal to shift Australia’s embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.
Ms Bishop, who will be in Dubai this weekend to lead a curtain-raiser to the annual World Economic Forum in Switzerland, said she watched Mr Turnbull give his side of events in the leadership coup on the ABC’s Q&A on Thursday night.
She said she was still being asked by voters why Mr Turnbull was removed in August and what made key players such as Finance Minister Mathias Cormann move against him.
“And I don’t have an answer to that either. I’ve never been informed by any of the Cabinet as to why they turned on Malcolm. I still don’t know,” she said.
Ms Bishop attacked the key argument many senior Liberals used to justify the move against Mr Turnbull — that Queenslander Peter Dutton had the numbers to force a spill.
“I have to say I wasn’t aware at any time that Peter Dutton had the numbers,” she said. “Nobody ever showed me any documents or evidence that Peter Dutton ever had the numbers so why Cabinet ministers shifted to back Peter Dutton, I don’t know why.”
Ms Bishop said Mr Turnbull had spoken in leadership meetings of polling that showed the Liberals were ahead in key marginal seats.
One of Mr Turnbull’s main complaints during the Q&A interview was that though he was behind in national polling, he was in front in polls of marginal seats the Government needed to secure to win the next election.
Asked what she thought about Mr Morrison’s idea to move Australia’s embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, Ms Bishop said her position “hadn’t changed” from when she outlined reasons while foreign minister as to why the Government was not planning to move the embassy.