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A nice entree but budget not on the menu, says Clive Palmer of dinner with Malcolm Turnbull

Clive Palmer said the budget was not on the menu at a dinner he had with Malcolm Turnbull in Canberra.

Clive Palmer said the budget was not on the menu at a dinner he had with Malcolm Turnbull in Canberra. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

Clive Palmer had a ''nice entrée'' and recommends the caramelised banana and coconut ice-cream at the Wild Duck restaurant, but the Fairfax MP said budget negotiations were not on the menu during a secret dinner with Malcolm Turnbull on Wednesday night.

Mr Palmer, who is threatening to block several key budget measures said he was ''a bit hazy'' about discussions with Treasury Secretary Martin Parkinson, Liberal Party vide-president Tom Harley and another dinner companion at Canberra's Kingston Foreshore. Mr Parkinson is believed to have left by the back door.

A statement from Treasury said: ''The Secretary openly attended a personal dinner with Mr Turnbull and colleagues last night. He was not aware Mr Palmer was going to be at the restaurant and, indeed, Mr Palmer did not arrive until after the dinner had commenced.''

The mining magnate and the Communications Minister sat down for Chinese while other government ministers gathered to hear the Prime Minister speak at a dinner for the minerals industry on Wednesday.

Mr Turnbull told News Corp as he left the restaurant that ''the budget is a topic of conversation everywhere''.

But Mr Palmer said on Thursday that budget talks with his ''old friend'' had been in passing, and focused mostly on a budget reply he gave at Canberra's Hyatt hotel after budget day, and a video he had posted to YouTube.

''It was a personal invitation to have dinner with Malcolm because I've known him for many years. It was just social chit-chat.

''Sometimes politicians just need to sit down for a lunch away from the glare of the media.

''It was a chance to find some peace and solitude.''

Pensions, Newstart changes and other controversial measures the government is chasing support for were not discussed, he said.

''Otherwise we just talked about our children, about the fried rice. There was some discussion about the duck, a little bit about the chicken - that was about all.''

Mr Palmer says his focus was on his caramelised banana split with coconut ice cream. ''That was the highlight of the evening for me, it was the focus of the night. I'm a great connoisseur of food as you probably realise.''

The MP has refused to start negotiating with the government unless they supply him with extra parliamentary staff to scrutinise the budget bills.

''None of that [budget negotiations] was discussed,'' Mr Palmer said.

''I think we discussed how many hits on YouTube I had for my budget reply – the budget was discussed in that context.''

Treasurer Joe Hockey also hosed down speculation that Mr Turnbull was there to persuade Mr Palmer to back the government's reforms.

''Well look I do not think Malcolm was sent in,'' he told the Seven Network on Thursday.

Earlier, Mr Hockey had told the Nine Network that he had known nothing about the meeting, although it was not unusual to bump into people in Canberra.

''There's only a few restaurants in Canberra,'' he said. ''Obviously Clive might have more than one meal a night so it's quite possible you'll bump into him at a restaurant.''

But deputy opposition leader Tanya Plibersek said it was curious Mr Hockey didn't know about the meeting.

''It's not unusual that they would get Malcolm Turnbull out to try and sell the budget both to the public and to the crossbenchers,'' she told reporters on Thursday.

''But for him to be having meetings with Clive Palmer and Martin Parkinson and for Joe Hockey apparently not to be aware of it, I can't begin to fathom what's going on there.''

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said about the dinner on Thursday: ''Turnbull was eating Peking duck last night, Joe Hockey's left looking like a goose and we've got a lame-duck Treasurer.''

with AAP

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