While I support Bishop in this endeavour, I can’t help but question her commitment to WA, the state of her former electorate that she clearly has little ties to. Considering Bishop was born in South Australia and did not move to WA until she was 26, this shouldn’t be a surprise. Her eagerness to move to Canberra for this position so soon after her retirement from federal politics demonstrates her loyalties (or lack thereof) to WA.
There have been mixed responses from ANU students, owing to the fact that the announcement overshadowed a sexual assault protest and an Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) report on sexual violence just hours after. Women’s Department officer Nupur Apte stated that it seemed “very coincidental…almost as though they were trying to bury our sit-in”. In an open letter to Bishop, the ANU Student Association declared “Today we stood in solidarity with survivors of sexual assault for the third year in a row while the leaders of this university made a fleeting appearance for the cameras. The question remains, where will you stand?”. A student at the university observed “ANU has actively hidden these protests by not interacting or acknowledging them.” Another student believes the announcement came as a “foreshadowing [of] an upcoming period of not only ignoring student voices and action, but of blatantly attempting to cover them in order to maintain the reputation and apparent prestige of the University”. The response from these students is a call to action for the new Chancellor Bishop, to continue to ignore students as she ignores WA, or to choose to support what students want.
The feedback of Bishop’s appointment isn’t entirely negative, with many in support of a female chancellor as the boost needed to address sexual assault issues on campus. Furthermore, a female student praised Bishop’s “tireless work in the creation of the New-Colombo plan to empower undergraduates to study in the Indo-Pacific.” Bishop’s commitment to the New-Colombo plan has not gone unnoticed, and is likely part of her credentials for the role. It’s showtime for Julie Bishop; she has a chance to rise to the expectations of students and show that her foreign affairs credentials are applicable within a university role.