Julie Bishop’s partner, David Panton, was once erroneously assumed to be Australia’s foreign minister by United States first lady Melania Trump.
Bishop, the first woman to serve as Australian foreign minister, told a lunchtime audience at the Adelaide Festival yesterday that she and Marise Payne, Australia’s first female defence minister, regularly drew stares as a rare female duo at international summits that the pair attended.
"People were quite surprised. They didn't think that that's what Australia would have … they thought we were a blokey culture", she said.
However, it appeared that in 2017, when US President Donald Trump first visited the United Nations General Assembly Leaders’ Week, things took quite an unexpected twist.
"All the kings and queens and monarchs and heads of state and prime ministers and foreign ministers are in New York for that one week", Ms Bishop said, as cited by ABC.
"President Trump made his”, she said, adding that she was introduced to him afterwards, “and it was all 'what did you think of my speech, what do you think of me,' you know, 'how am I going' and later that night, David and I attended a cocktail function hosted by the President and the first lady”.
"Melania, standing by, assumed David was the foreign minister and she said to me: 'Julie, will you be coming to my ladies' lunch tomorrow?'", Bishop said of the encounter at the UN General Assembly Leaders' week, as reported by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. She then continued:
"And I said 'No, David's going to the partners' lunch'. She thought about that for a while, thinking: 'Why would Australia's foreign minister come to the partners' lunch?'”
"So this went on for a while until the President explained that I was the foreign minister", Bishop recalled.
She drew much appreciation from the crowd when she concluded her story: "David attended the partners' lunch", she said, and there was further laughter when she added that Mr Trump had observed with a degree of concern that Mr Panton was a good-looking guy.
Bishop, over her career as foreign minister, has regularly found herself to be the only woman in the room.
The report hit a nerve with numbers of Twitterians, with one saying this is “more evidence that the Trumps don’t prepare for foreign leaders’ visits.”
“Maybe next time take 5 minutes to study before meeting heads of state?” another user rushed to shame Melania, with another cracking yet another joke:
“Strange. Trophy wives usually do such a good job with name cards and place settings!”
Strange. Trophy wives usually do such a good job with name cards and place settings!— Fauad Shariff (@fauads) 10 марта 2019 г.
Another suggested that Melania has the same peculiarities as Donald does:
They truly deserve each other— Jack Kelly (@JackKel84274954) 10 марта 2019 г.
Another user, meanwhile, suggested the issue is a bit too exaggerated, prompting a response though:
Your article said she made that mistake bc her husband struck up a conversation with Bishop’s husband, rather than w the foreign minister herself, so Melania assumed Bishop would be attending the partners’ lunch. Not exactly the brightest bulb, esp next to a spouse like that.— Andy Aytch (@AndyAytch) 10 марта 2019 г.
Melania is the “First Lady” of the US, she is supposed to know who she is talking to, you know, be prepared for the summit, not just with what clothes to wear, but who is who there. NOT rocket science. But it figures she is stupider than Trump, otherwise he wouldn’t marry her— Maria PI (@mpinline1) 10 марта 2019 г.