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Queensland senator Glenn Lazarus has labelled his former political mentor, Clive Palmer, a "bully" after the Palmer United Party leader accused him of attempting to trade his vote for millions in cash for his former Rugby League club, the Brisbane Broncos.
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Under increasing pressure over his faltering nickel business and plunging popularity with voters, Mr Palmer lashed out on Tuesday.
"Is #Lazarus for sale?" he tweeted.
"Witnesses say Senator Lazarus asked Turnbull for $7m for #Broncos in return for Senate vote."
An hour earlier, Mr Palmer tweeted: "Is there any evidence Lazo was trying to be appointed to the board of #Broncos? Was wife Tess going to take Senate seat. The plot thickens."
Mr Palmer claimed Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull declined any deal but it remains unclear to which piece of legislation the alleged horse trading was in connection to. He later repeated the allegations in a press release.
Mr Palmer appears to have been angered by Senator Lazarus' comments on ABC Radio earlier on Tuesday when the former Rugby League great said he was unsurprised PUP appeared to be heading for political oblivion, saying voters had "worked [Palmer] out".
Senator Lazarus responded to Mr Palmer's accusations about his lobbying for funds for the Broncos.
"It is nothing more than an attempt to distract people from the real issues – job losses at the refinery in Townsville," he told Fairfax Media in a written statement.
"This is the type of behaviour which I encountered while with PUP and another example of why I left. I don't like bullies and I don't think bullies should be allowed to get away with this type of behaviour."
Senator Lazarus played as a front rower for the Broncos between 1992 and 1997.
He said he "actively pursues" funding for Queensland organisations and sporting bodies, including a high tech sporting and training complex in Red Hill for the Broncos.
"That is my job – I am the only independent senator for Queensland. It is my job to secure funding for Queensland. Every elected representative in Queensland should be doing this!"
He said he had secured funding for the Queensland Rugby League Murri carnival last year and is working with the Arthur Beetson Foundation to secure ongoing funding.
He is also pursuing the establishment of a memorial for James Ackerman, a 25 year-old Queensland footballer who died after being knocked unconscious in a tackle in July last year.
The proposed memorial would include the renaming of a stand at the Sunshine Coast stadium, which is located in Mr Palmer's seat of Fairfax.
As reported by Fairfax Media on Monday, respected political pundit Antony Green, the ABC's election analyst, doubts Mr Palmer could retain his seat at this year's election and his only chance would be to make a switch to the Senate and run in Queensland.
Senator Lazarus quit PUP in March last year, later forming the "Glenn Lazarus Team" as a registered party.
He suspected Mr Palmer was attempting to engineer him out of Parliament so the PUP leader could switch to the upper house.