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Future in balance for Geoff Shaw

AAP
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He’s helped topple a premier and a Speaker and survived an inquiry, but Geoff Shaw’s Victorian parliamentary career might finally be over.

The former bouncer turned Liberal MP turned independent political kingmaker may have his future decided when the Victorian parliament sits on Tuesday.

For the past two years Mr Shaw has been embroiled in controversy over misusing his parliamentary car for his own hardware business.

He’s survived an ombudsman’s finding, criminal dishonesty charges which were dropped in December and now a parliamentary privileges committee investigation.

“That’s the end of the matter,” he declared last week.

It wasn’t.

The coalition-dominated privileges committee found the Frankston MP breached the MP code of conduct but stopped short of a contempt of parliament finding.

As a result, Labor, whose committee members wanted a contempt finding, won’t settle for anything less than having Mr Shaw expelled from parliament to “end this circus”.

But when Premier Denis Napthine rejected Mr Shaw’s demand that he protect him from possible punishments, he promised to back a no-confidence motion against the government.

If Mr Shaw is expelled it will be the latest chapter in a colourful public life since he won the seat of Frankston in 2010.

Within six months of his election as a first-time Liberal candidate, he sparked controversy for likening homosexuals to child molesters in a response to a letter from a gay constituent.

He later apologised.

He was also accused of making a lewd gesture during question time.

Mr Shaw’s position came into sharp focus when he resigned from the parliamentary Liberal Party shortly before Ted Baillieu stepped down as premier on the same day in March 2013.

“I believe my actions reflect the general loss of confidence Victorians are feeling in the leadership of the government,” Mr Shaw said on quitting.

He controlled the balance of power after that, and used it to vote against the government a number of times.

In July 2013, he drew controversy for taking a taxpayer-funded trip to Europe while under police investigation for rorting.

In October he was involved in an incident with protesting taxi drivers on the steps of Parliament House.

Mr Shaw claimed another scalp in February when he forced Speaker Ken Smith to step down after threatening to vote no confidence in him.

Mr Smith had survived Labor’s attempts to oust him during November parliamentary sittings, but could not avoid his fate after Christmas.

“I have no confidence in the member for Frankston, and actually I believe he is unworthy of being a member of this parliament,” Mr Smith told parliament as he resigned as Speaker.

The move eventually sparked the current crisis, with Mr Smith vowing to vote with Labor to force Mr Shaw’s expulsion.

That prompted Mr Shaw’s promise to back a government no-confidence motion, leading both parties to look at ways to get him out of the picture.

Mr Shaw has regularly pushed for changes to Victoria’s abortion laws, calling his fellow MPs “cowards” for refusing to debate any proposed legislation.

“I think they should be taking the lead on the debate and not being moral cowards,” he said in May.

Outside parliament, Mr Shaw ran his own accounting business and, according to his website, plays the bagpipes.

He might get extra time to work on his rendition of Scotland the Brave if the opposition gets its way and expels him on Tuesday.

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