julie bishop

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    Tony Abbott sidesteps questions on whether he approached Julie Bishop on leadership issue

    By political reporter Susan McDonald
    Updated 2 minutes agoTue 3 Feb 2015, 8:36am
    PHOTO: Tony Abbott yesterday gave a crucial speech at the National Press Club(AAP: Mick Tsikas)
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    MAP: Australia
    Prime Minister Tony Abbott has not denied a report that he asked his deputy Julie Bishop for a commitment not to challenge him, and she declined.
    Sky News is reporting Mr Abbott made the request of Ms Bishop at a meeting between the pair in Sydney on Sunday.
    On breakfast television this morning, Mr Abbott was repeatedly asked whether it happened, but did not give a direct answer.
    "I think people find all that insider Canberra stuff so boring. So absolutely and utterly boring." Mr Abbott told Channel Seven.
    "You know that the public aren't interested. Why don't we just leave all that insider gossip to the Canberra insiders and get on, get back to work."
    Ms Bishop and Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull both say they support Mr Abbott, but the ABC understands that neither of them have given a commitment to the Prime Minister not to challenge him.
    Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane said it would be helpful if both Ms Bishop and Mr Turnbull publicly stated they would not challenge for the leadership.
    "Well absolutely, I mean we need to see a situation where the Government governs," Mr Macfarlane told AM.
    A Cabinet meeting later today will be an opportunity for senior Ministers to air any concerns they have about Mr Abbott's leadership.
    But Mr Abbott insists it's a "stock standard" start-of-the-year Cabinet meeting.
    "We'll be talking about where the Government is going, not just the big picture of where the Government is going, where we are going portfolio by portfolio," he said.
    "We'll have a good talk. That's what we do."
    Treasurer Joe Hockey said this morning Mr Abbott would lead the Coalition to the next election.
    Mr Hockey dismissed as "unsourced gossip" the reported account of Mr Abbott and Ms Bishop's meeting, while suggesting his colleagues should end their leadership chatter.
    "If there were to be a change of leadership it would mean what six prime ministers in eight years, really? I mean come on Australia needs to focus on doing what is right for Australians," Mr Hockey told Channel Nine.
    Mr Hockey said he had not had conversations with Ms Bishop or Mr Turnbull about the leadership.
    The Prime Minister is trying to focus on his key policies for the year and demonstrate that he is "back to work" by today visiting a child care centre.
    "This is going to be the year of the small business tax cut and more affordable childcare with more money in parents' pockets," he said.

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