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Premier Jay Weatherill in loud public clash at fundraising function

South Australian businessman Shane Yeend. Picture: Kelly Barnes

South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill and entrepreneur Shane Yeend had a loud public confrontation in front of dozens of guests at a Labor fundraising function. Mr Yeend, whom The Australian yesterday revealed has set aside $1 million to campaign against the state government ahead of the election next year on March 17, said the Premier verbally abused him at a function on December 12, accusing him of embarrassing the government with an advertisement he ran in the Sunday Mail on December 10. Mr Yeend said the encounter, at a Labor fundraiser for SA Progressive Business, involved Mr Weatherill shouting and swearing at him “nose to nose” in front of dozens of guests before he and the Premier left. Yesterday, Mr Weatherill confirmed there had been a heated confrontation with Mr Yeend. “I always behave appropriately but Mr Yeend does have a particular method of communication that I think many people would accept is inappropriate,” he said. Asked yesterday if he had “fired back ... on equal terms”, Mr Weatherill said: “Mr Yeend behaved inappropriately at a function and I certainly wasn’t prepared to tolerate that.” Mr Yeend said the Premier had yelled at him, “You embarrassed me. Take your business and shove it up your arse”, after Innovation Minister Kyam Maher had brought Mr Weatherill over to meet Mr Yeend and Australian Cannabis Corporation chief executive Ben Fitzsimons at the start of the event. Mr Yeend said he wanted only to ask the Premier why he had not responded to ACC’s proposal. The ACC approache­d the government 18 months ago seeking help in its bid for a federal medical cannabis cultivation licence to make medicinal marijuana on a commercial scale at the Holden car factory site, north of Adelaide, once the company shuts its doors this year. The proposal estimated it would generate 2500 new jobs and $800m annually. Mr Yeend in the Sunday Mail in ­December said ACC wanted to employ South Australians but “after a year, we have managed two meetings and a generic letter from our Innovation Minster”. SA Progressive Business chairman Nick Bolkus, a former Labor senator, said Mr Yeend had been verbally abusive and “Jay gave as good as he got”, although he did not hear the Premier swear.

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