Australian LNP Politician

Bronwyn Kathleen Bishop (née Setright; born 19 October 1942) is an Australian politician who is the 29th and current Speaker of the House of Representatives, holding the office since 12 November 2013.

Bishop has been a member of the Australian House of Representatives for the Liberal Party since 1994, representing the Division of Mackellar in New South Wales. Earlier, between 1987 and 1994, she represented New South Wales in the Senate. Bishop held ministerial portfolios during the Howard Government, serving as Minister for Defence Industry, Science and Personnel from 1996 to 1998 and as Minister for Aged Care from 1998 to 2001. In October 2014, she surpassed Kathy Sullivan's record for the longest period of parliamentary service by a woman.

Political Career

When Downer became leader, she became Shadow Health Minister, a senior position, but caused controversy on her first day in office by announcing her support for tobacco advertising, drawing criticism from both the Australian Medical Association and her own party, which supported the Keating Government’s legislation to prohibit tobacco advertising in 1992. Her remarks were attacked by the then AMA president and soon-to-be Liberal MP for the neighbouring seat of Bradfield, Brendan Nelson, who said that: “Mrs Bishop has a lot to learn about health…there are now more than 50,000 pieces of medical research and literature supporting the view that smoking is injurious to humans.” Bishop was dropped from Health and moved to Privatisation and Commonwealth/State Relations (1995–1996).

When the Liberals returned to Government in 1996, Prime Minister John Howard appointed Bishop a Minister in various junior portfolios. She was the first Liberal woman from New South Wales to become a minister. She was Minister for Defence Industry, Science and Personnel from 11 March 1996 to 21 October 1998 and Minister for Aged Care from 21 October 1998 to 26 November 2001. It was in this role that she endured her greatest scandal, the kerosene baths controversy of 2000. The revelation that some residents at Melbourne’s Riverside private nursing home had suffered blistering after being bathed in a weak kerosene solution as a cure for scabies led to a national outcry over the standards of care maintained by Bishop’s department. She was dropped from the ministry after the 2001 election. On 1 January 2001, Bishop was presented with the Centenary Medal “For service to Australian society through parliament and government”. In 2004 she campaigned to succeed Neil Andrew as Speaker of the House, but was not successful. In September 2013, Bishop was nominated by incoming Prime Minister Tony Abbott to be the new Speaker of the House.

Political Advocacy

An affirmed monarchist, Bishop, along with fellow Ministers, Nick Minchin and Tony Abbott supported the ‘No’ campaign leading up to the failed 1999 Republican referendum[12] and on one occasion spoke to Australians for Constitutional Monarchy, warning of the “Seven deadly myths of the republican debate”. On 17 July 1991, in response to the infamous debate on the Nine Network’s Midday television show with host Ray Martin, debating on Australia remaining a constitutional monarchy, in a live televised debate with singer Normie Rowe and radio broadcaster Ron Casey, who ended up physically brawling, Bishop issued a media release which said: “It may well have been High Noon on the Midday Show when Ron Casey took a swipe at Normie Rowe but this conduct indicates just how divisive the debate on the Monarchy has become. Not content to see the country on its knees as a result of the recession the Labor Party must be pleased that it is dividing the community on an issue which has absolutely no political relevance.”

In August 2005, Bishop called for Muslim headscarves to be banned from public schools, an opinion also expressed by another prominent Liberal backbencher, Sophie Mirabella. However, the Prime Minister, John Howard, said that he did not agree with this view as a ban would be impractical.[16] In November 2005, Bishop expressed the view that “she is opposed to the wearing of the Muslim headscarf, where it does not form part of the school uniform. This is because that in most cases the headscarf is being worn as a sign of defiance and difference between non-Muslim and Muslim students” and then went on to say that she “does not believe that a ban on the Jewish skull cap is necessary, because people of the Jewish faith have not used the skull cap as a way of campaigning against the Australian culture, laws and way of life.”

On 21 January 2006, at a Young Liberals convention in Sydney, Bishop declared her intention to introduce a private members bill to make “destroying or violating” the Australian flag a federal offence. Shortly before the Howard Government lost office, Bishop headed the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Family and Human Services, and released the report “The winnable war on drugs: The impact of illicit drug use on families”. The report was highly critical of harm minimisation and suggested mandatory adoption of children under 5 years of age whose parents were known to use drugs. The report was widely criticised by a range of organisations such as Family Drug Support, the Australian Democrats and the Australian Drug Foundation for lacking evidence, being ideologically driven, and having the potential to do massive harm to Australia.

In 2006, following a flag-burning incident during the 2005 Cronulla riots and a burnt flag display by a Melbourne artist, Bishop introduced the Protection of the Australian National Flag (Desecration of the Flag) Bill 2006. This bill sought to make it “a criminal offence to willfully destroy or otherwise mutilate the Flag in circumstances where a reasonable person would infer that the destruction or mutilation is intended publicly to express contempt or disrespect for the Flag or the Australian Nation.” The bill received a second reading but subsequently lapsed and did not go to vote in the House of Representatives.

2007 to Present

In the 2007 federal election, Bishop was re-elected to her seat with a 0.62-point primary swing and 3.04-point two-party-preferred swing against her on slightly redistributed boundaries. After his appointment as Liberal Leader, Brendan Nelson appointed Bishop to the Shadow Ministry portfolio of Veterans’ Affairs.

Nelson bringing back Bishop to the frontbench was in contrast to their past conflict in 1994 when Bishop as Shadow Health Minister defended tobacco advertising which was contrary to the position taken by Nelson, then President of the Australian Medical Association (AMA).

However, after the election of Malcolm Turnbull as leader of the Liberal Party, she was dropped from this portfolio, to return to the backbench. Despite speculation that she would be challenged for preselection in her seat of Mackellar for the next election, this did not eventuate and she later reaffirmed her intention to contest the next election. On 5 May 2009, Bishop criticised Turnbull’s leadership, saying that “Malcolm seems to have been strong at the beginning but now he has gone soft.” However, with Turnbull’s loss of the party leadership and the election of Tony Abbott as his successor, on 8 December 2009 Bishop was appointed to the shadow ministry as Shadow Minister for Seniors. Bishop was re-elected at the 2010 Election and was appointed to the outer shadow ministry as Shadow Special Minister of State and Shadow Minister for Seniors.

Regarding Wikileaks editor Julian Assange, it was alleged that Bishop had tweeted in December 2010 that “Mr Assange should be aggressively interrogated until he reveals the location of the stolen cables, so they can be retrieved.” The comment was widely retweeted and mocked as an indication of her technical naivety. However, the tweet was later revealed to be a fake.

Speaker of the House

The Coalition defeated Labor at the federal election on 7 September 2013. Tony Abbott announced that Bishop would be the Coalition’s nominee as next Speaker of the Australian House of Representatives. Bishop was elected as Speaker on 12 November 2013. She is the third woman, and the first non-Labor woman, to hold the post. She has opted against wearing the full traditional attire of the Speaker, but instead wears a traditional business suit.

Since October 2014, Bishop has served in the Australian parliament longer than any other woman, outstripping the record of 27 years and 3 months previously held by Kathy Sullivan. In November 2014 Bishop lost her bid for presidency of the Inter-Parliamentary Union.

While the house has 150 MPs, Bishop had ejected MPs from the house 400 times in June 2015, with 393 of the MPs ejected being Labor MPs. In mid-July 2015 she became embroiled in controversy surrounding her use of taxpayer-funded travel entitlements after she claimed $5,227.27 for chartered helicopter flights from Melbourne to Geelong and back on 5 November 2014 where she attended a state Liberal party fundraiser. Bishop refused to resign over the expenses claim, describing it as an “error of judgement” and expressing disappointment that media coverage had “taken the heat off Mr Shorten” and the Liberal party’s partisan interests. Liberal party staffers removed a transcript of Tony Abbott’s comments calling for then Prime Minister Julia Gillard to make Peter Slipper resign over a travel expenses scandal.

Personal Life

Bishop was born Bronwyn Kathleen Setright, the daughter of opera singer Kathleen Congreve. She enjoys singing and dancing, having appeared in several charity productions including The Sound of Music (as Baroness Elsa), and Grease (as the Headmistress). In 2007, she sang a duet of Irving Berlin’s A Couple of Swells with then Health Minister, Tony Abbott, at a fund-raiser in Sydney. Bishop is also a patron of Opera Australia and was 2008 President of the Sydney International Piano Competition Committee.

In 1966, she married (later the Hon) Alan David Bishop (20 April 1940 – 22 January 2010), with whom she studied law at the University of Sydney. Alan Bishop was a judge of the now defunct Compensation Court and the District Court of New South Wales and was instrumental in the establishment of the WorkCover Authority of New South Wales. He is honoured by the Bishops’ alma mater with the Alan Bishop Scholarship for distinguished final-year undergraduate law students. Alan Bishop also served as an alderman of the City of Sydney and was involved in multiple committees and companies, including the public medical research company AGITG.

Bronwyn and Alan Bishop had two daughters; Angela, an entertainment reporter for Network Ten, and Sally. Bronwyn and Alan Bishop divorced in 1992.


2015-07-21 Bronwyn Bishop

Welcome to "The Bronny Meme's"

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Welcome to "The Bronny Meme's"

2015-07-20 Bronwyn Bishop

In case you missed Former Liberal leader John Hewson this morning.

Posted by ABC News Breakfast on Sunday, July 19, 2015

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In case you missed Former Liberal leader John Hewson this morning.

Posted by ABC News Breakfast on Sunday, July 19, 2015


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