A senior federal government minister has suggested Labor figures are responsible for leaking footage of Malcolm Turnbull mimicking Donald Trump.
Veteran political journalist Laurie Oakes ignited a potential diplomatic storm when he released the footage of the prime minister’s off-the-record speech to the annual Midwinter Ball in Parliament House on Wednesday night.
It appears to have been taken on a phone held by someone in the audience which included scores of other journalists bound by what are known as Chatham House rules.
Cabinet minister Mathias Cormann on Friday pointed the finger of blame at Labor leader Bill Shorten.
“Bill Shorten will have to clarify today whether it’s true that his office was behind leaking those secret recordings and, if so why they thought that was a good idea to do so,” he told Sky News on Friday.
The suggestion was quickly dismissed by the opposition leader’s office which released a statement saying: “This is completely wrong, Senator Cormann should apologise for this disgraceful lie.”
In his speech, Mr Turnbull made fun of his May meeting with the president in New York.
“It was beautiful. It was the most beautiful putting-me-at-ease ever,” he jokes.
The prime minister even attempted a Trump impersonation.
“The Donald and I, we are winning and winning in the polls. We are winning so much, we are winning, we are winning like we have never won before,” he said.
Mr Turnbull also referred to a “Russian guy” who can make online polls look much better than the “fake polls” in the mainstream media.
It’s a reference to the problems the White House is having with allegations Moscow interfered in the US presidential election last year.
Crossbench senator Nick Xenophon, who didn’t attend the ball, said in this day and age with mobile phones, essentially, nothing is off the record.
Asked whether it was dangerous to make fun of Mr Trump, he told ABC radio: “At the risk of getting barred from the US, I think the US president makes fun of himself all the time and does it very successfully.”
Mr Turnbull, while disappointed the material was leaked, was able to make light of its release.
Next year he would be reading selected passages from budget paper number two, he warned.
The US embassy in Canberra appeared unfazed by all the fuss.
“We take this with good humour that was intended,” it said in a statement.
Australia’s ambassador to the US Joe Hockey also is making light of the issue.
“The administration hasn’t rung us up and I haven’t been hauled into the White House and sent back to Australia so far as I’m aware,” he told US media.
“Although, I saw a series of black cars outside.”
Former Labor premier Peter Beattie says the most shocking revelation out of the speech is that Mr Turnbull has a sense of humour.