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EXCLUSIVE: Julie Bishop's thoughts on ex Prime Minister Gillard

In a rare and candid exclusive, The Weekly’s Juliet Rieden goes on the road with Minister for Foreign Affairs Julie Bishop.

By: Juliet Rieden

Julie Bishop is a firm advocate of women supporting women and yet when Australia's first and only female Prime Minister Julia Gillard delivered her famous spray against Tony Abbott's perceived misogyny in 2012, Julie was one of many to condemn Gillard.

Does she still stand by that reaction?

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Julie Bishop's exclusive interview is only in The Australian Women's Weekly.

"Yes, absolutely. I thought it was totally inappropriate. It was done not to address the issue of sexism but to find an excuse for her poor performance as leader and her incompetence as a leader. If she had been genuine about the issue, it's a matter she would have raised previously but it was clearly contrived as a smokescreen against criticism and it was designed to bolster her popularity with her back bench. Yet those outside Canberra, outside Australia, probably took it at face value and thought it was factually correct and that she was portraying herself as a victim of rampant sexism, whereas I believe her motive was to deflect criticisms of her leadership," Julie tells The Weekly, clearly still highly irritated.

"She was a woman who became the Prime Minister of Australia. She was no shrinking violet. She was no victim of a glass ceiling. She reached the highest position in public life and she was complaining about sexism."

While sexism is still rampant in her job and many others, Julie walks a careful line between beating the gender equality drum without scaring the horses with words like feminism.

"I've lost count of the number of times I've been asked to call myself a feminist. I don't label myself as anything," she retorts.

"I think I label myself as a West Australian, that tells you where I'm from; I label myself as a Liberal, that tells you my political party; I label myself as socially progressive, economically conservative, that tells you my values. I'm a Christian, that tells you my religion, but other than that I don't seek to label… look at what I do. If what I do is about supporting equality of opportunity for women, then that's what I want to be known for."

Read more about Julie Bishop in her most revealing interview ever in the October issue of The Australian Women's Weekly. On sale now.