Victorians tuning in to the 7pm news last night were greeted by a confusing situation. Their government was suddenly thrown into disarray after balance-of-power independent politician Geoff Shaw announced he would support a no-confidence motion against the Premier, Denis Napthine.
Victorians woke up this morning with the situation still unresolved.
So who is Mr Shaw? Politicians see Mr Shaw, an independent for the seat of Frankston, as a dangerous man. This is not the first time that he has brought down a premier. Last year Mr Shaw resigned from the Liberal Party to become an independent, a factor leading to former Premier Ted Baillieu’s resignation.
With Victorian politics looking increasingly labyrinthine, here is The New Daily guide to the key players in the unfolding Victorian political crisis.
Geoff Shaw – Independent MP
The balance-of-power Member for Frankston is a controversial figure. Mr Shaw controversially quit the Liberal Party last year, becoming an independent. This left the Liberal and Labor parties with 43 votes each and led to the resignation of former Premier Ted Baillieu.
In a radio interview this week, Mr Shaw declared that he would support a no-confidence motion against Premier Denis Napthine, saying that he did not trust him anymore. If Labor decides to introduce a no-confidence motion with Mr Shaw’s support, the Coalition Government will be defeated.
The “rogue” politician was the subject of a criminal investigation last year amid claims he abused taxpayer privileges. He was charged with 23 counts of obtaining financial benefit by deception.
He will maintain his seat in parliament after being cleared of wilfully misusing his taxpayer-funded vehicle.
Denis Napthine – Victorian Premier
The current Victorian Premier took over from former Premier Ted Baillieu last year to become leader of the minority State Government. He was previously the Minister for Major Projects and led the state Liberal Party between 1999 and 2002.
Mr Shaw revealed this week that he had sought assurances from Dr Napthine that he would not be expelled from Parliament following the abuse of privileges charges against him.
In an emergency press conference last night, the premier said that he would not be held to ransom by Mr Shaw and his “unreasonable demands on the government”. He said it was up to opposition leader Daniel Andrews to do a deal with Mr Shaw.
Daniel Andrews – Labor Opposition leader
Daniel Andrews has led the state Labor Party and served as Opposition Leader since 2010.
Mr Andrews has accused Premier Napthine of “running away” from the issue of confidence instead of working with him to resolve the “constitutional crisis”. Mr Andrews asked Dr Napthine to have a meeting with him and Governor Alex Chernov, but the premier has declined.
Mr Andrews has committed to passing the state budget, but wants Mr Shaw found in contempt of parliament for misusing his parliamentary vehicle. It is still unclear if he will introduce a no-confidence motion.
Ken Smith – former Speaker
The former Liberal party speaker and Mr Shaw have a chequered history which is thought to stem from Mr Smith’s decision to refer Mr Shaw to the parliamentary privileges committee.
The independent MP sent shockwaves through the parliament last year when he said he had lost confidence in Mr Smith as speaker. Mr Shaw is thought to be responsible for Mr Smith’s resignation as speaker, with a friend of Mr Shaw’s – Liberal MP Christine Fyffe – replacing him.
The Liberal politician has said he would consider crossing the floor and vote with Labor to find Mr Shaw guilty of contempt of Parliament.