Joe Hockey has labelled a new report suggesting a senior colleague last year didn’t think he was up to being Treasurer as “gossip”.
“I’m focused on helping to create more jobs in Australia and working with other countries on global growth,” the Treasurer told AAP on Sunday from Istanbul after attending a G20 finance ministers meeting.
News Corp reported on Sunday that senior government sources confirmed that late last year Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop suggested to the Prime Minister the idea of getting rid of Mr Hockey.
Ms Bishop has subsequently described the report as a “rehash of an old story”.
Last week Fairfax Media reports suggested senior ministers had approached Mr Abbott to dump Mr Hockey should the Liberal Party perform badly at the September 19 Canning by-election in Western Australia.
Mr Abbott, however, said “not a single person” had raised the matter of Mr Hockey’s future with him.
In response to Sunday’s report, a spokesman for the Mr Abbott told AAP: “The Prime Minister stands by his comments.”
Ms Bishop said she was not “playing this game that obviously amused people in Canberra”.
“I’m not going into private conversations I have, with the Prime Minister in particular,” she told reporters in Perth.
She says Mr Hockey is working hard to repair a budget that was trashed by Labor and is doing a “good job”.
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten says it is “quite remarkable” Ms Bishop avoided answering the question.
“You could tell she wasn’t comfortable because she didn’t want to directly come out and say that Mr Abbott wasn’t being truthful,” he told reporters in Melbourne.
Former Liberal Treasurer Peter Costello believes Mr Hockey will stay in his role because Mr Abbott has made it clear he won’t cast him adrift.
“So that’s really the end of the matter,” Mr Costello told Network Ten.
But he says if next year’s federal election is to be fought on “growth and jobs”, the Coalition has to pick up its story considerably.