Mining magnate Clive Palmer reportedly clashed with Opposition Leader Tony Abbott last week over policy differences within the Liberal Party, reports said.
ABC reported on Tuesday morning that the two Liberal figures engaged in a heated argument Thursday last week at a Melbourne hotel, in which Mr Abbott allegedly blew his top and threw threatening remarks at the Queensland billionaire, regarded as one of Liberal's most generous donors.
Media reports said that Mr Palmer, who is running a campaign to win a Liberal pre-selection slot to challenge Treasurer Wayne Swan's Lilley seat in Brisbane, had suggested to the Liberal leader that lobbyist should not be allowed to hold senior positions at the Federal Liberal Party Council, which the party will convene this coming weekend.
"It's highly inappropriate to have those same people who are conducting their business to lobby government, as the president of any political party, the vice president or any official office bearer because office bearers need to have obligations to the membership," The Australian reported Mr Palmer as saying in a statement on Tuesday.
"We need to have full transparency in processes in all political parties," the maverick miner said.
But the suggestion was reportedly rejected by Mr Abbott, which Mr Palmer took as a 'visceral response'.
Tempers flared during the duo's discussion, according to the Australian Associated Press (AAP), with Mr Palmer reportedly claiming that the Liberal headliner shouted hurtful words to him, which he interpreted as threats.
But in his interview with reporters in Canberra, Mr Abbott simply confirmed that he has had differences with Mr Palmer, hinting that what happened last week was not any different or unusual.
The Australian reported too that the Queensland miner had confirmed previous spars with Mr Abbott, allowing that "we've had disagreements over a number of issues ... but healthy disagreements are fundamental for democracy and freedom of speech."
The Opposition leader clarified too that "if there was any heat (during the argument) it certainly wasn't coming from me."
He explained too that Mr Palmer's proposal was not accepted because "there is no evidence whatsoever that any serving members have in any way been compromised by the positions they hold."
"The federal executive should be open to people from all walks of life if they've got the talent to serve, the willingness to serve, then they should be able to do so," Mr Abbott added.
He also denied that due to the financial muscle enjoyed by Mr Palmer, he enjoys more privileges as compared to the ordinary Liberal members and functionaries.
"Mr Palmer is just an ordinary rank and file member of the Liberal Party ... and had no more and no less influence," Mr Abbott stressed.
He added that just like any other member of the party, wealthy or not, "if Mr Palmer has a position to put to me then he is welcome to put it to me."
Mr Abbott noted though that everyone must be reminded, Mr Palmer including, that "no member of our party has a privileged status by virtue of his wealth or his donation."
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