Julie Bishop has delivered her first public address since resigning as foreign minister, blasting the "appalling behaviour" in Canberra in the lead-up to the leadership spill.

Speaking at the Australian Women's Weekly Women of the Future awards on Wednesday night, Bishop said the events that led to the ousting of Malcolm Turnbull as prime minister "would not be tolerated in any other workplace in Australia," the Australian Financial Review reports.

The most powerful woman in Australian politics slammed the party's actions, saying it calls for a "much broader debate about workplace culture" including "allegations of bullying, harassment and coercion and the unequal treatment of women."

She also took aim at the party's lack of female representation, saying: "I say to my party, it is not acceptable for us to have in 2018 to have less than 25 per cent of our parliamentarians as female."


"It's not acceptable for our party to contribute to the fall in Australia's ratings from 15th in the world in terms of female parliamentary representation in 1999 to 50th today. There's a lot to be done," Bishop said.

"Our party, in fact all parties, recognise they have a problem in attracting and maintaining women, diversity in general.

"When a feisty, amazing woman like Julia Banks says this environment is not for me, don't say 'toughen up princess', say 'enough is enough'," she added, referring to the concerns of other female Liberal MPs who claim that they suffered intimidation and received threats during the leadership spill.

"Politics is robust, the very nature of it, it's not for the faint hearted," Bishop said.

"I have seen and witnessed and experienced some appalling behaviour in Parliament, the kind of behaviour that 20 years ago when I was managing partner of a law firm of 200 employees I would never have accepted.

"Yet in Parliament it's the norm.

"We must defend and strengthen our institutions, and we must treat our Parliament with more respect. Unacceptable workplace practices are the responsibility of us all to identify, to stop it, to fix it."

Bishop was a strong contender to replace Turnbull following Peter Dutton's failed leadership challenge last month, but was knocked out in the first round of party room voting, before Treasurer Scott Morrison swept in to take the top job.

She said there was much to be done within the Liberal party when it comes to female representation.

"There's a lot to be done and I'm committed to be helping do it."

Earlier this week, it emerged that Mr Turnbull allegedly offered Mr Dutton the role of deputy Liberal leader — a position occupied by Ms Bishop for nearly a decade — in a last-ditch attempt to prevent a leadership challenge.

The Home Affairs Minister reportedly turned down the offer because he believed he had the backing of Liberal MPs to seize Turnbull's job.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison. Photo / Getty Images
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison. Photo / Getty Images

Morrison dismissed the report on Wednesday morning, saying Australians couldn't care less.

It comes after former PM Julia Gillard weighed into the "gender bias" within the Liberal Party.

Gillard says looking into the "heads and hearts" of the vast majority of Liberal parliamentarians who voted for either Morrison or Dutton but not Bishop in the first round of the leadership ballot would reveal all sorts of factors at work.

She said there would be votes motivated by how far the party should shift to the right, or by policy concerns.

Similarly, there would be votes based on the perceived ability of the candidates to unite colleagues or to articulate a vision for the country and votes based on friendship.

"And the list could go on and on," Gillard said in a lecture at the University of Adelaide on Tuesday.

"But I think one item that should appear on it is votes touched by bias, conscious or unconscious, about gender.

"What was the precise mix and the weighting of these kinds of factors in a Liberal member or senator's head?

"We don't know and maybe the individuals involved couldn't even precisely articulate it themselves."

She said it remained "hard evidence" that while the number of women in the ALP federal caucus had jumped from 14.5 per cent in 1994 to 46 per cent at present, in the Liberal Party the increase was less than 10 percentage points to 23 per cent.