Federal Politics


Clive Palmer and Malcolm Turnbull meet for afternoon drinks at the Hyatt

Only two months after their last meeting sent shockwaves through Australia's political scene, Malcolm Turnbull and Clive Palmer have been spotted having afternoon drinks in Canberra.

The Federal Communications Minister met the Palmer United Party leader at the Hyatt Hotel on Tuesday afternoon, where they talked for more than half an hour in the Speaker's Corner bar.

It comes just a couple of months after the two men had dinner at the Wild Duck restaurant in Kingston, an event which triggered a flurry of leadership speculation across the country.

This time, Mr Palmer swapped his banana split for lemon, lime and bitters.

The PUP leader confirmed the meeting to Fairfax Media, saying it had just been a "social thing" between friends.

"I'm in Canberra, he's in Canberra. Just small talk really. Nothing political," he said.


When asked whether the question of leadership had been discussed, Mr Palmer said nothing like that had been mentioned.

"Malcolm did say that he thought Tony Abbott was going well and his popularity had increased in recent weeks because of what he'd done internationally," he said.

"And he said he had his full support."

A patron who saw the meeting said Abbott's name had been mentioned and it appeared Turnbull had refused to engage in the discussion. The patron also said two men had compared US and Australian politics in a discussion.

Controversy erupted after the pair's last meeting in May, with  questions raised over Prime Minister Tony Abbott's leadership and Mr Turnbull's loyalty to the Liberal Party.

Conservative commentators Andrew Bolt and Alan Jones accused Mr Turnbull of aiding the Coaliton's enemies by attending the dinner.

In response, Turnbull said Mr Bolt's statements were 'quite unhinged' and appeared on Jones' radio show to refute the allegations in a fiery interview.

At the time, Mr Palmer said he was "a bit hazy" on what was discussed at the meeting in May, which had also included Liberal Party vice-president Tom Harley and Treasury secretary Martin Parkinson.

Every part of the May dinner was closely analysed by the media, including the fact that Palmer had the caramelised banana and coconut ice-cream on the night.

This time, he stuck to a drink.

Mr Turnbull's office was contacted about the latest meeting but offered no comment.

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