Bishop can't rule out speaking to Blewitt twice
The Deputy Opposition leader, Julie Bishop, cannot rule out speaking to Ralph Blewitt by telephone last week, only that she never rang him and he never rang her.
Ms Bishop, the chief inquisitor of Julia Gillard over the AWU slush fund saga, said on Tuesday that she had spoken to Mr Blewitt just once and that was at a face-to-face meeting in Melbourne on Friday last week.
Ms Bishop said the meeting with the self-confessed fraudster and AWU bag man was coincidental, that she was in Melbourne on party business when the former radio host, Michael Smith, rang her.
Ms Bishop said Mr Smith, who has been relentlessy pursuing Ms Gillard over the saga, told her he was with Mr Blewitt and suggested they should meet.
Ms Bishop agreed and they met at a cafe for about 10 minutes.
However, Fairfax Media revealed on Wednesday that the pair had spoken at least once before - by phone on Wednesday last week when Ms Bishop was in Perth.
This report led to Labor MPs calling for Ms Bishop’s resignation this morning.
''If those media reports are correct, then Julie Bishop has out and out lied,'' said the minister, Craig Emerson.
''She should therefore resign or be sacked.''
Ms Bishop has released a statement not ruling out that the pair spoke by phone.
''Earlier last week Michael Smith called me while I was driving in Perth and said he was at dinner with someone who wanted to speak to me,'' she said.
''That person did not identify themselves and said he was pleased that the AWU fraud was being raised in Parliament.
''I said that would continue to be the case and my mobile phone dropped out at that point.
''Michael Smith did not call back and I do not know to whom I spoke.''
In a further muddling of the account, Mr Blewitt has told Channel 9 on Wednesday morning that he did speak to Ms Bishop on the phone and that it was on Thursday last week.
Mr Blewitt said that he had been handed the phone by Mr Smith and that he had talked to Ms Bishop for about three or four minutes.
Ms Bishop has kept a low profile on Wednesday morning, after conducting three doorstop interviews on Tuesday.
However, in question time, Ms Bishop lead the Coalition's pursuit of Ms Gillard over the AWU affair for the third day in a row.
While Mr Abbott asked the first question, calling on the Prime Minister to explain Labor's decision on Israel and Palestine, Ms Bishop asked all the remaining Coalition questions.
Ms Bishop asked Ms Gillard if she had written to authorities in Western Australia, vouching for the AWU Workplace Reform Association.
The Prime Minister replied that Mr Abbott had read along to every word of Ms Bishop's question.
"Get up and ask it yourself, and then I'll answer it," she said.
with Judith Ireland