A Labor MP has denied he threatened a minister with a butter knife while the pair had a “robust exchange” in their native Turkish tongue.
The Daniel Andrews government is in damage control after the altercation on Wednesday night between factional powerbroker Adem Somyurek and Sports Minister John Eren in the members-only dining room.
Sources close to Mr Eren said the minister felt intimidated when Mr Somyurek held a butter knife.
But others, including minister Marlene Kairouz, denied there was a knife held by her factional colleague.
“I was present at the table in the dining room when a robust discussion occurred between colleagues in Turkish,” she said.
“I did not see a knife in anyone’s hand and I did not see any physical altercation. They should shake hands and move on.”
Mr Eren is understood to be prepared to make a statutory declaration, saying there was a knife.
Mr Somyurek rejected the allegation in a statement on Thursday evening.
“I made a comment to Mr Eren in the bar about internal party matters and returned to the dining room, where I was having dinner with colleagues,” Mr Somyurek said.
“I proceeded to return to the dining room for dinner. I was surprised when Mr Eren followed me into the dining room, clearly agitated.
“I was seated when Mr Eren approached and stood on the other side of the table, opposite me. We then had a robust exchange in our native tongue, which was a brief conversation.
“At no point was I holding a butter knife. At no time did I threaten anyone.”
Mr Somyurek said he and Mr Eren had known each other for 30 years and there were “a number of witnesses”.
In Parliament, Mr Eren refuted suggestions by Opposition Leader Matthew Guy that he had been drinking excessively prior to the incident.
“There was an incident that took place last night and I’ve reported that to the presiding officer, and as he indicated earlier … there will be an ongoing investigation into that incident,” Mr Eren said.
“Accordingly, of course it would be totally inappropriate for me to make any comments in relation to that investigation.”
A spokesperson for Mr Eren said he would be not adding further comment.
On Twitter, Liberal MLC Mary Wooldridge said the government was “proving to be scandal ridden, abusive misfits that deserve to be booted out”.
Investigation to be held
The incident has been reported to Speaker Colin Brooks and an investigation has been triggered.
The blue comes amid a major factional realignment of the Victorian ALP, in which Mr Somyurek has been a chief architect.
It has also exposed the simmering tensions within Mr Andrews’ own caucus.
Mr Somyurek, the member for the upper house seat of South-Eastern Metropolitan, was forced to resign as Small Business Minister in 2015 following bullying allegations by his former chief of staff.
At the time, Mr Somyurek demanded the Premier sack his own chief of staff, as well as Deputy Premier James Merlino.