A dinner involving Malcolm Turnbull, Clive Palmer and Treasury secretary Martin Parkinson has set tongues wagging in Canberra.
Senior government figures seeking to spice up their budget pitch have been ducking and weaving over a Chinese dinner in Canberra.
Cabinet minister Malcolm Turnbull and Liberal-linked executive Tom Harley had a chance encounter with Treasury secretary Martin Parkinson in a Parliament House car park on Wednesday night.
The trio elected to go to dinner at the Wild Duck restaurant in nearby Kingston.
In the meantime, Mr Turnbull sent a text message to his friend, billionaire politician Clive Palmer, to ask if he would join them.
Mr Turnbull said the budget had been discussed.
"The budget is a topic of conversation everywhere," he told The Daily Telegraph after the dinner.
"There really is not much to say; we have had a pleasant dinner and a good chat."
Mr Palmer, whose three senators-elect will hold the key to budget measures passing parliament, said told reporters on Thursday it wasn't a budget negotiation.
The budget had come up when discussing the concerns of some of the MP's pensioner constituents.
The diners also talked about their children and the fried rice.
"There was some discussion about the duck, a little bit about the chicken - that was about all," the Palmer United Party leader said.
Mr Palmer says his focus was on his caramelised banana split with coconut ice-cream.
Treasurer Joe Hockey said he knew nothing about the meeting, but it was not unusual to bump into people in Canberra.
"Obviously, Clive might have more than one meal a night, so it's quite possible you'll bump into him at a restaurant," Mr Hockey said.
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said the incident showed the government was in disarray.
"What I do know is that Malcolm Turnbull was eating Peking duck last night, Joe Hockey is left looking like a goose this morning and we've got a lame duck treasurer."
A spokeswoman for Dr Parkinson told AAP the Treasury secretary had attended a personal dinner with Mr Turnbull and colleagues.
"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," she said.