Julie Bishop questions 'appalling' behaviour in federal politics
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Julie Bishop questions 'appalling' behaviour in federal politics

Former foreign affairs minister Julie Bishop has weighed into the debate about bullying in federal Parliament, saying she has witnessed behaviour in Canberra that would not be "tolerated in any other workplace across Australia".

Ms Bishop's replacement as Liberal deputy leader, Josh Frydenberg, agreed with her remarks.

Ms Bishop described the "embarrassing circus" in federal politics to an Australian Women's Weekly magazine event in Sydney on Wednesday night, saying that, when politicians showed contempt for each other, they were "applauded".

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

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"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, but in Parliament, it's the norm.

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"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."

Liberal MP Julia Banks and Liberal senator Lucy Gichuhi both say they were subjected to bullying and intimidation from male colleagues during last month's leadership spill.

The behaviour prompted Ms Banks' decision to leave politics, prompting Ms Bishop to question why her party had trouble attracting and attaining women.

"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'," Ms Bishop said.

She also criticised the Liberals for the party's commitment to female representation.

Julie Bishop and David Panton at Wednesday night's event.

Julie Bishop and David Panton at Wednesday night's event.Credit:Louise Kennerley

"I say to my party, it is not acceptable for us ... in 2018 to have less than 25 per cent of our parliamentarians as female," she said.

"It is not acceptable for our party to contribute to a fall in Australia's ratings from 15th in the world in terms of female parliamentary representatives in 1999, to 50th today.

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

Mr Frydenberg also acknowledged the atmosphere inside Parliament House was often too confrontational, stretching relationships and creating tensions.

"It's not good enough, is it?" he told ABC radio on Thursday.

"That is something we all need to be very conscious of and to mitigate against."

Mr Frydenberg said his party needed to get more women into safe seats and around the cabinet table.

AAP