Ex-foreign minister Julie Bishop retires

Julie Bishop, Australia's first woman foreign minister, has announced her retirement from parliament
Julie Bishop, Australia's first woman foreign minister, has announced her retirement from parliament

For a woman with so many firsts in public life, Julie Bishop left her long-rumoured retirement almost until the last minute.

She said it was an "immense honour" to serve as Australia's first female foreign minister and the first woman to be deputy leader of the Liberal party.

The West Australian MP will step down at the upcoming election, which is due to be called in a matter of weeks.

"I will not recontest the seat of Curtin at the next election," Ms Bishop told parliament on Thursday.

"I will work hard in the meantime to assist a new Liberal candidate to win the seat. It is time for a new member to take my place."

Ms Bishop said a number of "extraordinarily talented" people, including women, had contacted her about running in the seat.

She thanked the prime ministers who chose her to serve as a minister - John Howard, Tony Abbott and Malcolm Turnbull - after she was elected in 1998.

"I was brought up to believe that entering public office should be one of the highest callings," she said.

"I had always had an intense conviction that an individual can make a difference to the life of the times."

Ms Bishop's political future was under question after she decided against remaining in cabinet following Mr Turnbull's resignation as prime minister in August 2018.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison quoted a Bible verse when he thanked Ms Bishop, who had already exited the chamber, for her devotion to the Liberal party.

"'Well done good and faithful servant' ... this is a phrase that speaks very much to the member for Curtin," Mr Morrison told parliament.

"Her successor will have big shoes to fill and we all know Julie has the best shoes in the parliament."

Mr Morrison praised her efforts in dealing with Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 disaster in 2014, when 38 Australians were killed.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten also thanked her for fighting for the families of the MH17 victims.

"She did Australia proud that day and in those weeks," Mr Shorten said.

He said he hoped to see her stay in public life.

Ms Bishop's successor as foreign minister, Marise Payne, choked back tears as she talked about Australia's high status in the international community.

"It is in no small measure attributable to her leadership, her drive, and her commitment as Australia's foreign minister for five years that that is the case," Senator Payne told a Senate estimates hearing.

Mr Turnbull said Julie Bishop had been Australia's "finest foreign minister".

"I think I'll really miss this," Ms Bishop told reporters as she left Parliament House.

The WA Liberal Party is expected to announce the process for selecting a new candidate in coming days.

Australian Associated Press