`Gender game low politics'

AUSTRALIA'S most senior woman parliamentarian hopes  the country has seen the last of what she calls the gender game used as a tactic in federal politics.

Since Julie Gillard was toppled from the top political job as Australia's first woman prime minister, Opposition deputy leader Julie Bishop has taken on the mantle as one of the country's most powerful political women.

She is the Liberals' first woman deputy leader and the third woman in Australian history to hold the Opposition deputy leader title.

In Launceston yesterday the West Australian Curtin Liberal MHR described Ms Gillard's attacks on Opposition Leader Tony Abbott as sexist and a misogynist as dispiriting.

``I lament the lost opportunity that Julia Gillard had to be a role model for young women,'' she said.

``Instead, when her own inability to perform the job well became apparent she resorted to a victim status and I thought that was a most unfortunate message to send to young women in particular.

``She had the most powerful position in the country. She was the most powerful elected representative in Australia and yet she chose to play a victim instead of face up to her own incompetence and misjudgments and miscalculations.''

Ms Bishop does not agree with those who applauded Ms Gillard's misogynist speech in Parliament directed at Mr Abbott earlier in the year as a passionate defence of women.

``It was clearly a contrived and vicious attack on Tony Abbott designed to cover her own failings in appointing a person of the calibre of Peter Slipper to the speakership and covering up the fact that she had double-crossed Andrew Wilkie to install Peter Slipper into that job,'' she said.

``It was all about distracting from her own failings and I thought it was particularly unfair because Tony Abbott is a wonderful colleague.''

Ms Bishop said that she was surprised when Ms Gillard described Mr Abbott as a misogynist.

``It was such low politics,'' she said.

Women contemplating a political career should see the past few months as an unfortunate one-off in history not to be repeated, she said.

``I was pleased when a woman became prime minister of Australia - it showed that there was no position closed to women in the country and I was as disappointed as anyone that Julia Gillard made such a hash of it,'' she said.

``But I don't think that young women will be put off by her experience - I think they will see other role models who will enthuse them.

``You don't have to play the gender game - never have, never will.''

Federal Opposition deputy leader Julie Bishop in Launceston yesterday. Picture: SCOTT GELSTON

Federal Opposition deputy leader Julie Bishop in Launceston yesterday. Picture: SCOTT GELSTON