Julie Bishop wants to contribute to 'the return of National Party'

05:51 am on 8 February 2019

Australia's former foreign minister has sought to help the National Party return to government, sharing her experience with the party at their caucus retreat.

National leader Simon Bridges with Australia's former foreign minister Julie Bishop at the party's caucus retreat in Hamilton. Photo: RNZ / Chris Bramwell

But Julie Bishop, the Liberal MP, denied she was meddling in New Zealand politics.

Speaking ahead of a caucus dinner in Hamilton last night, Ms Bishop said she was "absolutely delighted" to have been invited as guest speaker.

"I want to share some of the experiences that we've had in opposition winning from a Labor government and to share ... some of the lessons that we have learned.

"If members of the National Party find that useful and can adapt that to their circumstances, then I will have made a contribution to the return of the National Party to government."

Asked whether that was appropriate given the Liberal government had to work closely with New Zealand's current coalition, Ms Bishop said it "certainly" was.

"This happens all the time between parties.

"Members from New Zealand and Australia would exchange ideas and agendas and centre-right parties ... should likewise do so.

"I have met with politicians and members of a number of centre-right parties as we address the mutual issues of concern."

Ms Bishop said she was not in New Zealand to comment on domestic politics and that the governments of both nations would work together with whoever was in charge.

"I've worked with numerous foreign ministers from New Zealand.

"I know [Foreign Minister] Winston Peters well. I get along well with him. I met Murray McCully today - one of your very fine foreign ministers - and had a great discussion with him."

Ahead of the dinner, Mr Bridges said the party was "very privileged" to get to hear from Ms Bishop.

"We're really looking forward to... getting some insights from her about what's happening internationally and what that will mean for both the National Party and New Zealand."

Ms Bishop caused a stir during the 2017 election campaign when she said she would find it [Https://www.radionz.co.nz/national/programmes/checkpoint/audio/201854840/aus-minister-slams-nz-labour-over-deputy-pm-controversy "very difficult to build trust"] with a New Zealand Labour government. She later mended ties with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.