Bronwyn is ‘unforgettable’: Turnbull

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has led tributes for former Speaker Bronwyn Bishop after she was ditched in a preselection battle for the safe Liberal seat of MacKellar.


Mr Turnbull said it was very disappointing for Mrs Bishop who has made an “enormous and indelible contribution” to Australian public life.

“She has been a magnificent figure on the national stage as a minister, as a member, as a senator, and a Speaker, Bronwyn has been unforgettable,” Mr Turnbull told reporters in Canberra on Sunday.

Mrs Bishop lost the backing of the party on Saturday to long-standing party member Jason Falinski.

Mr Falinski also beat out former prime minister Tony Abbott’s endorsed candidate, conservative Walter Villatora, who received just 12 votes in the second round and nine in the third.

After the vote Mr Falinski told reporters: “I do want to thank Bronwyn Bishop for her long service and dedication to the Liberal cause on the northern beaches”.

She may have caused Mr Abbott a headache when was prime minister over the infamous chopper-gate scandal, but he has also offered his thanks to Mrs Bishop for her long political service.

Mrs Bishop was stood down as Speaker last year after being engulfed in an entitlements scandal, notably a short $5000 helicopter trip paid for by the taxpayer.

Mr Abbott tweeted his thanks to Mrs Bishop for her service to the electorate, party and country for many years.

“She has been a warrior for good causes and deserves the gratitude of all members of the Liberal Party,” Mr Abbott said.

Senior Liberal George Brandis agreed that it has been a very substantial political career.

But he said this is one of many preselections around the country as older Liberals members retire, like Philip Ruddock in the seat of Berowra.

“This is a time of renewal,” Senator Brandis told Sky News.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said the result shows how “severe and deep” the in-fighting in the Liberal Party is.

“Love her or hate her, she has been a formidable warrior,” Mr Shorten told reporters in Melbourne.

“For the last 29 years the Liberal party has said she is a great person, now they have just dumped her.”

Independent senator Nick Xenophon wasn’t much of a fan, saying Mr Bishop was a pretty poor Speaker, incredibly partisan and not what a Speaker should be about.

“I’ve had two conversations with Bronwyn Bishop, I wish her well in her retirement. See ya later, I guess,” Senator Xenophon told ABC television.