A Labor senator who the Coalition claims was rung by Kevin Rudd from the United States seeking her support for the leadership has dismissed the story, saying she hasn't spoken to the Foreign Minister in weeks.
Yesterday, the Coalition was spreading rumours that Mr Rudd, who is in New York for the United Nations General-Assembly, had rung the Northern Territory Labor Senator, Trish Crossin, seeking her support for the leadership.
Senator Crossin has told smh.com.au that the source of the rumour was the NT Country Liberal Senator Nigel Scullion.
She said she last spoke on the phone to Mr Rudd three weeks ago when both were in Canberra. Senator Crossin said she had phoned Mr Rudd asking him to write a letter of support for a local sporting team, the NT Thunder.
She said Senator Scullion walked into her office and "rudely walked up to me while I was on the phone".
"He didn't stop at the door like he should have when someone is on the phone," Senator Crossin said.
The Coalition alleges the leadership was discussed.
At a press conference this morning, the Opposition Leader, Tony Abbott, alluded to the rumour.
"Labor backbenchers are telling Coalition members of Parliament that they're being called by Kevin Rudd," he said.
"I understand that one Labor backbencher took a call from Kevin Rudd in the presence of a Coalition member of Parliament and then told the Coalition member of Parliament exactly what had happened.
"So look, if the Labor Party are saying this to their political opponents I hate to think what they're saying to each other."
Senator Crossin said people should be careful about what they claim to have heard.
The Queensland Labor backbencher, Shayne Neumann, was less categorical when he refused to answer repeatedly this morning whether Mr Rudd had rung him seking support.
"Would you believe anonymous Liberal sources and staffers? I wouldn't believe any of this nonsense.
"The Prime Minister is doing a good job, she has my support, and the Foreign Minister is doing a good job as well."
Phillip Coorey is the Herald's Chief Political Correspondent