Julie Bishop won’t back PM on sexism claim

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has urged colleagues to raise any issues they have with Peta Credlin directly with the Prime Minister’s office and not through the media.

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Some ministers and MPs have privately – and in some cases publicly – criticised Ms Credlin, who is Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s chief of staff.

Who is Peta Credlin?

  • Credlin has worked for Tony Abbott since 2009, when he was opposition leader
  • In June, Clive Palmer accused her of masterminding the Government’s paid parental leave scheme for her own benefit; he later said he regretted the comments
  • In 2013, she was caught drink-driving – blowing 0.075 when breathalysed on her way home from Mr Abbott’s budget reply speech – but escaped punishment
  • In 2013, long-serving senator Ian Macdonald criticised her and the PM’s office for its “obsessive centralised control phobia”
  • She was an adviser to former Howard government minister Richard Alston
  • She spoke publicly in 2013 about her unsuccessful attempts to conceive through IVF

Mr Abbott this week defended Ms Credlin’s performance and suggested that sexism could be behind the attacks.

Liberal backbencher Warren Entsch made an official complaint against Mr Abbott’s office and reiterated his criticism of Ms Credlin.

Ms Bishop today said Ms Credlin was an “essential part” of the Coalition team, adding that she would not characterise the criticism in gender terms.

“I’ve been on the record many times saying that I don’t view the world through a prism of gender,” she told Sky News.

“I never have, I never will. But I think it’s reflecting the Prime Minister’s frustration that anonymous sources have been making complaints about his chief of staff.

“If people have got a problem with the Prime Minister’s office, go and talk to the Prime Minister.”

Ms Bishop also addressed issues regarding her working relationship with Ms Credlin and claims it had deteriorated.

“She and I have a very professional, close working relationship [and] we’ve worked together for a very long time,” Ms Bishop said.

“I think this is all a distraction, an absolute distraction, from what the Australian people expect from the Government, and that is to get on with the business of governing and that’s what we’re going to do.”

Some ministers and MPs have accused Ms Credlin of micromanaging the Prime Minister and have privately blamed her for the Government’s problems.

Treasurer Joe Hockey has declined to comment on the issue.

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