Embattled cabinet minister Michaelia Cash has denied her former media adviser “took a bullet” for her by quitting after informing media about federal police raids on trade union offices.
Labor senator Doug Cameron resumed grilling Senator Cash on Thursday, saying he had been advised the staffer had already made the decision to leave the office before resigning.
“Is it possible he took a bullet for the team and yourself?” Senator Cameron asked.
“No,” Senator Cash replied.
The minister praised the former adviser for confessing, and said she does not believe any other staff were aware of the leak.
“It is actually very brave of him to also come forward and to admit his mistake and lose his employment as a result of what he did,” Senator Cash said.
Journalists were tipped off about Australian Federal Police raids on Australian Workers Union offices in Melbourne and Sydney on Tuesday.
Senator Cash told the committee she asked the Registered Organisations Commission to consider referring the leaks to the federal police.
“I do not have the power to direct you in relation to such a matter, however one course of action which I would ask you to consider is referring the matter to the Australian Federal Police,” Senator Cash said, reading from her letter.
Labor is calling on Senator Cash to resign or Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to sack her.
She insists she hasn’t considered quitting, but refused to say if that possibility had been discussed when she met with Mr Turnbull on Thursday morning.
“I’m not going to canvas the ins and outs of the discussions I’ve had with the prime minister,” Senator Cash said.
She stood by her evidence on Wednesday, which Labor says amounts to misleading parliament five times.
“All evidence provided to me in relation to the questions that you asked me were based on my knowledge at the time,” Senator Cash said.
The adviser told Senator Cash he got the information from a “media source”, but declined to elaborate.
Senator Cash said she assured Mr Turnbull on Wednesday afternoon she did not personally contact journalists, but there was no discussion about her staff’s actions.
“I think the prime minister at that stage was concerned as to whether or not I had tipped off the media and I assured him that I had not,” she said.