Spurned prime ministerial aspirant Julie Bishop brought a stack of fan mail on to the floor of Parliament to send a message to her Liberal colleagues who rejected her.
The former foreign minister sat on the backbench during Question Time with a pile of papers, three weeks after receiving just 11 votes in a party leadership ballot.
The woman, who was deputy Liberal leader for almost 11 years, displayed the folders in the House of Representatives as a backbench colleague, one row in front of her, asked a ‘Dorothy Dixer’ question to new Treasurer Josh Frydenberg.
The senior minister answering the question last month replaced her as the Liberal Party’s deputy leader, as Australia woke up to its fifth PM in five years.
As Luke Howarth asked Mr Frydenberg about tax relief for small business, shortly after lunch, Ms Bishop continued checking her smart phone as she sat next to another disgruntled backbencher Julia Banks, who had complained about male Liberal MPs bullying her during the leadership ballot.
Afterwards, Ms Bishop’s office told Sky News the papers were from voters lamenting how she garnered just 11 votes from the Liberal Party’s 85 federal members during the first round of the leadership ballot on August 24.
The 62-year-old former partner with corporate law firm Clayton Utz became the Liberal Party’s deputy leader in December 2007, serving under Brendan Nelson, Malcolm Turnbull and Tony Abbott, throughout four leadership changes.
Opinion polls consistently showed she was more popular than Scott Morrison, who is now Prime Minister, and Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton, as former Liberal leader Malcolm Turnbull struggled to maintain political traction with voters.
She was a popular figure among voters despite the federal government’s unpopularity.
Mr Morrison and much of his party have rejected a call for Labor-style gender quotas, even though women make up just 22 per cent of the Liberal Party’s federal MPs.
Ms Bishop, a divorced MP from Perth who has been in Parliament since 1998 as the member for Curtin, supported gay marriage and had support from the Liberal Party’s ideologically moderate faction.
The party’s moderates, however, backed Mr Morrison, a Hillsong Christian who opposed gay marriage, in a bid to stop Mr Dutton prevailing as the right’s candidate.
Ms Bishop rejected Mr Morrison’s offer to continue as Australia’s first female foreign minister, and resigned from the post to sit on the backbench for the first time in 15 years.