Victorian Opposition Leader Daniel Andrews says Premier Denis Napthine is “running away” instead of working with him to help resolve the latest political crisis confronting the state.
Geoff Shaw, the Liberal-turned-independent MP who holds the balance of power in the Legislative Assembly, has threatened the stability of the parliament by saying he would back any Labor no-confidence motion against the Napthine government.
Mr Andrews has asked Dr Napthine to meet him at 11am (AEST) on Wednesday, saying they should then seek the advice of Governor Alex Chernov in a bid to resolve the “unprecedented constitutional crisis”.
Dr Napthine has not yet responded, and it’s believed he will visit Bendigo on Wednesday.
“It would be a perfectly civil and appropriate discussion about how we can find a way through this crisis, which is an unprecedented crisis,” Mr Andrews has told ABC radio on Wednesday.
“I’d ask the premier to reconsider running away to country Victoria today in the hope this matter will simply go away.”
Mr Andrews has committed to passing the state budget, but wants Mr Shaw found in contempt of parliament for misusing his parliamentary vehicle, which could lead to his expulsion.
With the contempt motion hanging over his head, Mr Shaw in a radio interview on Tuesday accused the government of encouraging former Speaker Ken Smith to vote with Labor to sanction him, and revealed he would back the opposition in a no-confidence motion against the premier.
In response, Dr Napthine revealed Mr Shaw demanded an absolute assurance from the government that the parliament would not seek to sanction him further.
Dr Napthine said he had not acceded to previous demands from Mr Shaw, including him seeking a particular judicial appointment.
The Liberal-turned-independent Mr Shaw holds the balance of power in the Legislative Assembly, with the coalition holding 44 seats and Labor 43.
The parliament must be given three days’ notice before a no-confidence motion can be moved. The parliament is then given another eight days as a cooling off period before it is asked to pass the motion.