Amanda Vanstone and Julie Bishop important influences in Liberal Party's federal ranks

Amanda Vanstone and Julie Bishop have taken strong stands as ministers in Coalition federal governments.
Images courtesy Australian Parliament

Amanda Vanstone and Julie Bishop, as little-l liberals achieving in a conservative environment, continue the South Australian tradition of political mavericks.

Vanstone said she didn’t defer to male authority due to growing up in a female-headed household (her father died early) and attending a school (St Peter’s Collegiate Girls) run by women.

In 1984, at 31, Vanstone was elected the youngest member of the Australian senate and was appointed to John Howard’s' cabinet in 1996 as minister for employment, education, training and youth affairs. She presided over controversial heavy cuts to jobs programs.

In 1997, she was dropped from Cabinet but came back to eventually be immigration, multicultural and indigenous affairs minister. Again, she was involved in controversies such as the “Pacific Solution” for boat people and abolishing the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission. She retired from politics in 2007.

Also educated at St Peter’s Collegiate Girls School and Adelaide University, Julie Bishop was elected to the House of Representatives in 1998 representing the Western Australian seat of Curtin.

Bishop served in the Howard government with ministries for ageing, education, science, training and assisting the prime minister for women’s issues.

In 2008, Bishop was first woman of any party to become shadow treasurer. Although that was short lived, Bishop has shown remarkable staying power as Liberal Party deputy leader under the terms of Brendan Nelson, Malcolm Turnbull, Tony Abbott and Malcolm Turnbull again. She had also retained her role a foreign minister since 2009.

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