Some Australian Labor members of parliament (MPs) on Thursday dismissed speculation that Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd is planning an imminent leadership challenge against Prime Minister Julia Gillard, lashing out at the false report by Rupert Murdoch owned News Limited's press.
A front-page story of News Limited's Daily Telegraph on Thursday reported former prime minister Kevin Rudd is being urged by his backers to challenge Gillard.
Labor backbencher Doug Cameron said the report was "absolute lies" made up by the Murdoch press.
Although News Limited and the Daily Telegraph are not the only publications to report on a Rudd challenge, Senator Cameron singled out the newspaper as "reprehensible."
"The Murdoch press are an absolute disgrace, they are a threat to democracy in this country and we should absolutely be having a look at them," he told reporters in Canberra.
"They run unsubstantiated stories. I'm saying it's a fabrication. They run unsubstantiated stories in relation to the leadership of the party," he said.
"They are misrepresenting the position of the government."
Senator Cameron said he would take a motion to Labor caucus seeking to widen the existing inquiry into the media to look specifically at News Limited's "absolute hatred" of Labor.
He also said he was confident Gillard would remain leader up until the next federal election, likely in late 2013.
Parliamentary secretary Richard Marles agreed, saying that News Limited papers would have a much more functional use on Friday, which is to "wrapping fish and chips."
While Cabinet minister Stephen Conroy said the story had no legs, and it is stretching credibility by quoting "senior (Labor) sources from New South Wales," Rudd also laughed off the speculation he will challenge for the Labor leadership.
"As I've said one thousand times before, I'm very, very happy being the foreign minister," Rudd told reporters at Parliament House in Canberra on Thursday. "That hasn't changed and won't change."
Earlier, Greens leader Bob Brown criticized the News Ltd papers, particularly the Australian newspaper, which he brands "the hate media," and Senator Conroy has accused the Daily Telegraph of running a campaign for "regime change."
The Greens has urged for the break-up of the Murdoch press, which owns 70 percent of Australia's newspapers, and eight of the 12 major daily newspapers in Australia, including the only national newspaper, The Australian.
In June last year, Gillard seized the Labor leadership from Rudd, saying she needed to take over because a "good government lost its way." At that time, Rudd was struggling to sell his mining tax plan, which saw his popularity fall to record low.