- Former foreign minister Julie Bishop is in hot water over a gift of $25,000 Jimmy Choo high heels.
- Australian ministers must pay the difference between any gifts received above a $300 threshold, and their true commercial value.
- Bishop says she has “complied” with official requirements.
Former foreign minister Julia Bishop’s penchant for high fashion may be coming back to haunt her.
Bishop noted in March that she had been given a pair of “Aboriginal print shoes,” – which were in fact a limited edition collaboration between top Aboriginal artist Peter Farmer and chic Grand Master Lineage, a new Chinese company connected to Jimmy Choo.
Australian ministers – and perhaps especially our foreign ministers – can accept gifts in their day to day roles, but must go ahead and pay the difference between any gifts received above a $300 threshold, and their true commercial value.
That could be bad news for Bishop, with Fairfax suggesting the shoes could be worth anywhere around $25,000.
Pressed by reporters about the true value of the shoes and any proof of payment, a spokeswoman for Bishop only said the West Australian minister has “complied” with official requirements.
And on Wednesday morning (AEDT), according to MSN, Bishop said, “I complied with the register of interest, and now we can talk about matters of concern to the Australian people.”
The problem for Bishop here is that recent history has proven the Australian people are in fact totally concerned when a politician gives the slightest impression of wandering off with the chequebook.
It’s certainly not a good look for the ex-litigator and prominent Instagrammer who last Christmas caused something of a scandal by flaunting earrings designed by a Liberal party donor, Margot McKinney, reportedly worth more than the average Australian minimum wage.
Bishop has not yet put it on the public record if her various Instagram trinkets are something borrowed, something loaned or something of a more commercial nature.
Australians are particularly touchy about politicians who are seen to be skimming off the top or stealing from under the table.
Ever since Liberal Party ministers Michael McKellar and John Moore got nicked for importing colour televisions on the sly back in 1982, “entitlements” has become a bit of a dirty word in local politics.
Former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Bronwyn Bishop also caused public outrage when she was called out for spending $5,227 taxpayer dollars on a 15-minute helicopter ride to a party fundraiser in 2015.
But in the current political climate, any perceived pressures or inducements with any hint of a Chinese flavour can be considered political suicide, and could cost Bishop another shot at regaining her old job.
Following four years as the shadow minister for foreign affairs and trade, Bishop became Australia’s first female foreign minister in September 2013.
Bishop went to the backbench after the latest Liberal Party leadership spill and the axing of Turnbull in August, although observers did note that she stepped down in a trademark blaze of footwear.
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