Julie Bishop Exclusive: 'I Am Showing Leadership On Same Sex Marriage'

18/08/2015 8:15 AM AEST | Updated 08/08/2016 5:44 PM AEST

CANBERRA -- Deputy Liberal Leader Julie Bishop said a plebiscite on same sex marriage is the only way forward for Australia, claiming "not a lot of people" have made up their mind, or even thought about the issue.

In an exclusive interview with The Huffington Post Australia, the Foreign Minister declared a referendum would "not be necessary" and hit back at critics who have accused her of not showing leadership by failing to publicly state her personal stance on marriage equality.

Julie Bishop said she's keeping her own counsel: "I don't want my personal views to become the issue."

"My colleagues always get leadership from me in terms of my role as Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party," Bishop told HuffPost Australia in her Parliament House office.

"I spoke on this matter in the party room this week. I have read in the media, so therefore it must be right, that I had some influence on the outcome of the discussion. So I am showing leadership."

It is understood, Cabinet last night discussed the way forward on a "people's vote", but Ministers did not settle on either a plebiscite or referendum.

The Foreign Minister denied the past week's confusion over the way forward on marriage equality has been damaging to the Government.

She said an informed decision is needed and there hasn't been any opportunity to put the "yes" or "no" case on same sex marriage at a community level. She said she prefers the Irish plebiscite model, describing it as "grass roots democracy."

"It is an important issue, but I don't think it has been fully debated across Australia."

For the full interview watch the video at the top of the page.

While the Foreign Minister does not want the question of same sex marriage to be a distraction, there's no denying the announcement of Australia's new post 2020 greenhouse gas emission reduction target has been lost in the drama of last week's return to parliament.

A week ago, the Government revealed what Ms Bishop will be taking to the Paris climate conference (COP21) in November -- a plan to cut emissions by 26-28 percent by 2030, based on emissions from the year 2005.

The target has been criticised by the Opposition and environmentalists as being too low compared to other developed nations, like the US, UK and China.

Bishop, who'll represent Australia at the Paris summit, contends the comparisons aren't simple as countries are using different baseline years. She said Australia's climate target is non-negotiable, credible and responsible.

"I don't see Paris as a place for negotiating. I mean that's what went wrong with Copenhagen (in 2009). That countries began negotiating and then said they could not change their targets or positions. They would have to go back to their capital."

"That is what the French are seeking to avoid."

The Foreign Minister said Australian officials went through an exhaustive process to see what was achievable for Australia.

"Australia has met its first Kyoto Protocol targets. Met it indeed, exceeded them. We are on track to meet and possibly exceed the second round of Kyoto Protocol targets by 2020. There are not many other countries in that position."

"We say what we are going to do and then we do it."

She said no nation wants another Copenhagen failure and Paris can't fail in the quest to produce a global agreement where all countries put forward an achievable target.

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