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PM Avoids Questions On Clive Palmer's Business Dealings

Billionaire mining magnate Clive Palmer -- famed for floating the idea of rebuilding the Titanic and transforming a Queensland resort into a dinosaur theme park -- is priming himself to be a political king maker.

On Friday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison was pushed for detail about a deal the Coalition is understood to have penned with Palmer's United Australia Party.

“There has been no discussion with minor parties on policy, absolutely none," Morrison replied.

But went on to say: “Clive forms the view that he should preference the Liberal and National Parties ahead of the Labor Party.”

Morrison says Labor’s tax agenda was the catalyst for Palmer backing the Coalition.

Businessman Clive Palmer gestures as he leaves the Supreme Court in Brisbane in 2018. Photo: AAP.

For days there’s been talk of a deal with Palmer: he gives candidates preferences, and in return gets a leg up on his bid to become a Senator.

With Labor and the Coalition needing to win marginal seats, held by just a handful of votes, preferences from United Australia Party could be the decider.

READ MORE: How Clive Palmer's Annoying Ads Could 'Buy' Him A Senate Seat

This knife edge margin is felt strongly in the electorate of Herbert, where  the Prime Minister was speaking from; it was won last time by Labor by just 37 votes.

The LNP’s Phil Thompson hopes to win the Labor-held seat, which sprawls across Northern Queensland.

Liberal candidate for Herbert Phillip Thompson and Prime Minister Scott Morrison at a press conference after visiting a residential development site on the outskirts of Townsville. Photo: AAP.

It will be a difficult fight, which may actually be hindered by backing Palmer.

The mining magnate has faced criticism for not paying Queensland Nickel workers their entitlements.

Thompson was pressed on the issue.

READ MORE: 'He's No Bob Hawke': PM Resists Calls To Down A Beer

“Phil, how do you justify to voters in Herbert, many of whom lost their jobs when Clive Palmer’s refinery collapsed?" a reporter asked.

“You’re trying to get their votes and your party has done a deal with the man who let them down.”

“How do you justify that to voters?”

Thompson responded saying, “I’m not here talking about the how to vote card.”

Former WA Premier Colin Barnett, who did a deal with Pauline Hanson’s One Nation before losing the election, has warned the Coalition against working with Palmer.

That is not where the controversy over preferences end.

READ MORE: Fight Breaks Out At Fraser Anning Press Conference

Liberal National Party MP Michelle Landry has backed down from putting Fraser Anning -- who has made anti-Islamic and white supremacist comments -- above Labor and the Greens.

Preferences will be revealed on Monday, when pre-polling opens.

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