‘Telling Abbott of leadership challenge toughest thing’

Canberra, Sep 15 (IANS) Australia’s Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop on Tuesday said “informing Tony Abbot of Malcolm Turnbull’s leadership challenge was the toughest thing she has had to do”.

Julie Bishop, also the deputy leader of Liberal Party said “there were tears shed” as she told Abbott that he has lost the faith of his party, reported Xinhua news agency.

As Abbott’s deputy it was her role to inform the prime minister of Turnbull’s desire to force a leadership ballot.

“It’s the toughest thing I have ever had to do in political life,” Bishop said on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, she said she was “not enjoying this” and it was a “very difficult time” for herself, Abbott and the party.

Bishop said the outgoing prime minister was visibly upset when he heard the news of a leadership challenge, but remained calm up until he was voted out by his ministers.

“He was calm, he was obviously very hurt. Emotionally this is a very draining time for people and I feel for Tony and I feel for his wife and his daughters. I knew them well,” Bishop said.

However, the foreign minister rebuked claims that she was one of Abbott’s ministers to turn on his leadership.

“Being the deputy brings certain obligations and responsibilities and one of those is to keep the leader informed of the views of the back bench and that’s what I did,” she said.

Bishop was retained as deputy leader of the party during Monday’s snap ballot. She defeated Kevin Andrews by 70 votes to 30.

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