Opposition Leader Tony Abbott has denied reports a senior staff member told the chief executive of an Indigenous education organisation he would "cut his throat" if the Coalition wins the election.

News Limited journalist Peter van Onselen says he was at a Qantas party in Sydney last night when he overheard the staffer make the threat.

The ABC understands the staffer is Mr Abbott's director of policy Mark Roberts, and the person he was speaking to is Andrew Penfold, a former investment banker who is now chief executive of the Australian Indigenous Education Foundation.

I have heard some threats in my time, but nothing like that from an Abbott staffer tonight. Watch this space, I'll raise it on Sunday...

- Peter van Onselen (@vanOnselenP)

A Tony Abbott staffer told an eminent Australian that he would "cut his throat" once "we" are in government.... Much, much more to it...

- Peter van Onselen (@vanOnselenP)

... I am totally disgusted. He is a very senior member of the staff.

- Peter van Onselen (@vanOnselenP)

Van Onselen said the staffer knew he had heard the threat and offered to leak information from Mr Abbott's office in exchange for his silence.

Abbott's staffer knew I heard the conversation, bailed me up & offered to be a source inside TA's office if I stayed quiet...thanks, but no.

- Peter van Onselen (@vanOnselenP)

Mr Abbott has denied that his staffer had made the "throat-cutting" comment but confirmed that an "unfortunate exchange" had occurred.

"That particular phrase is denied," Mr Abbott told the media in Victoria this morning.

"I understand there was an unfortunate exchange between a staffer of mine and someone at a dinner last night.

"The incident is out of character as far as the staff member is concerned.

"It's been investigated and I understand the staff member has apologised to the person with which he had the incident.

"It seems that the matter is now at an end."

Mr Abbott refused to name the staffer in question but said he had been "counselled".

"As I said, it was an out-of-character incident," he said.

"It's been investigated, it's been apologised for and I think that's where the matter is now ended."

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