FOREIGN Minister Julie Bishop has been grilled over cabinet leaks after calling for a formal investigation into the issue that is dividing the Turnbull government.
Bishop reiterated on ABC’s 7.30 that she had nothing to do with the recent leaks, maintaining that she has never leaked the details of any cabinet meeting during her career.
Host Leigh Sales cut straight to the chase, asking Bishop: “Let me ask bluntly, were you the leaker?”
Ms Bishop replied: “No, I was not. Absolutely not.”
The Foreign Minister said she was not aware that her advisers had ever leaked any details of a cabinet meeting.
“Certainly not,” she said.
The Acting Deputy PM said a “strong message” needs to be sent to the person leaking the material, reminding them it is a criminal offence.
“Leaking from cabinet is a serious criminal offence. I’ve been in public office for 19 years and a cabinet minister for many years. I’m well aware of the consequences of leaks out of cabinet,” she told the ABC.
Host Sales asked Ms Bishop if the leaking of information meant that Ms Bishop’s ability to do her job had been undermined.
“How can you have a frank discussion in cabinet if you have to be conscious that somebody might leak it?”
Ms Bishop issued a curt reply: “Well, that’s self-evident.”
The Foreign Minister said the issue of a formal investigation into the leaks “was a matter for the Prime Minister”.
Earlier this week, speculation mounted that Bishop, who is Acting Deputy PM, was plotting a leadership challenge against Malcolm Tunbull with Scott Morrison as her preferred deputy.
Three ministers have conceded that leaks have been coming from the Turnbull cabinet.
Earlier today, Ms Bishop told Sky News she was not the one leaking sensitive information to damage the Prime Minister and Treasurer.
She said she “absolutely rejects the suggestion”.
Ms Bishop has publicly denied she is the source Andrew Bolt suggested she would be the beneficiary of the leak.
“It is not me,” she said in a statement.
“I would support a formal investigation into the leak.”