Shadow communications minister Nick Minchin's office has denied reports he is threatening to resign his portfolio to vote against the Government's proposed carbon emissions trading scheme (ETA).
The Sydney Morning Herald reported that Minchin was so incensed by Opposition Leader Malcolm Turnbull's deal with the Government that "he was threatening to resign from the front bench so he would be free to vote" against it.
But a spokesman for Minchin's office today dismissed the report as "hypotheticals and speculation."
"I've seen the reports. I'd class them as pure speculation," the spokesman said.
In the Senate late yesterday, Communications Minister Stephen Conroy enjoyed using Minchin's precarious position for political leverage.
In one of several questions without notice, Minchin asked whether Conroy could explain to the Senate why the Government had not managed a single new broadband connection under the NBN, despite two years in office.
"I congratulate Senator Minchin on taking time out from attacking his leader to ask a question in the chamber," Conroy replied, prompting an interjection from Senate President John Hogg.
A supplementary question from Minchin on whether Australians were worse off without the coalition's proposed OPEL broadband project met with a similar response.
"As I mentioned to the chamber before, Senator Minchin is taking a sweep on that side of the chamber to see whether or not he can get himself moved out of this portfolio or get himself replacing the Leader of the Opposition," Conroy started, before he was cut off by interjections from other Senators and Hogg once more.
"Order! Just address the question, Senator Conroy," Hogg said. "You are not asked to address that."