News National Vic Labor to block Shaw expulsion

Vic Labor to block Shaw expulsion

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Labor will block the expulsion of balance-of-power MP Geoff Shaw from Victoria’s parliament.

Premier Denis Napthine has moved to expel Mr Shaw after the independent Frankston MP labelled his own apology to the parliament for misusing his entitlements a “farce”.

Opposition Leader Daniel Andrews said the time to kick Mr Shaw out was three months ago when Labor pushed to expel him.

“What I will not do is agree to this grubby, cheap political stunt from a desperate premier,” Mr Andrews told reporters on Wednesday.

“We will vote against this because it is a stunt.”

Mr Shaw, who last week spoke out against the government’s East West Link road project, says he met all the requirements of his return from suspension and is being punished because of a conversation with a journalist.

“I have met the all the motion’s requirements and yet, because I question the premier’s pet $8 billion project and management and leadership style, he has taken it upon himself to rewrite the verdict of three investigations and the Victorian parliament,” Mr Shaw said in a statement.

He said the premier was trying to keep him from representing Frankston in parliament.

“If this was really about an alleged breach of the code of conduct or the appropriateness of my apology, then this would have been finalised yesterday when I met all the points of the motion.

“The premier is relentlessly continuing his personal agenda to the detriment of the state he is supposed to be running.”

Mr Shaw quit the parliamentary Liberal Party in March last year, citing concerns over leadership under then-premier Ted Baillieu.

“I left the Liberal Party because their current leaders stifle freedom of speech,” he said on Wednesday.

“Now it looks like I am being punished because of a conversation I had with a journalist.”

The government wants Mr Shaw held in contempt of parliament and expelled after he told a newspaper he just did what he needed to do to stay in the parliament.

Mr Andrews denied Labor was backflipping on its own policy regarding Mr Shaw, saying the time to expel the MP was three months ago when there were safe legal grounds to do so.

Mr Andrews, who said in June Mr Shaw was a rorter with no place in the parliament, defended Labor’s decision not to expel him now.

“I’m not going back on anything,” Mr Andrews said.

He said Labor lost the June debate and Dr Napthine needed to accept the outcome of that.

“We had a debate, we didn’t win. Mr Shaw got suspended instead of being expelled and I’m not going to have any part of this desperate stunt from desperate premier,” Mr Andrews said.

“Now the time has passed for us to be dealing with these matters.

“A penalty was applied. That penalty has been dealt with.”

Dr Napthine says the government didn’t move against Mr Shaw when he was suspended in June because a process needed to be followed and Mr Shaw had to be given an opportunity to apologise.

“I think it’s fair and reasonable, fair and just, that Mr Shaw was given the opportunity to do the right thing,” he said.

By moving to expel Mr Shaw now instead of June, the Napthine government has likely avoided a by-election in his Frankston seat.

Dr Napthine said Mr Shaw’s comments showed he did not genuinely apologise for misusing his parliamentary entitlements.

“What was purportedly genuine inside the parliament became a farce outside the parliament,” he told reporters on Wednesday.

“If you’re fair dinkum, if you’re honest about your apology, you don’t say one thing inside the house and another thing outside the parliament.”

Mr Shaw was suspended from parliament in June and ordered to make a genuine apology and repay more than $6800 for misusing his parliamentary car, fuel card and parliamentary entitlements.

Mr Shaw returned from the 11-day suspension on Tuesday, telling parliament he “humbly and sincerely” apologised.

But the Liberal-turned-independent MP later told a newspaper he just did what he needed to do to comply with the terms of his suspension.

“It’s all a political farce for the government to bring it up and to make all those hoops to jump through,” Mr Shaw told the Herald Sun.

Mr Andrews said he listened carefully to the words of Mr Shaw’s apology and said it would be difficult to prove in a court of law that it was not genuine.

Dr Napthine said Mr Shaw had been given opportunities to do the right thing, and he had run out of opportunities.

Parliament will vote on Thursday on whether Mr Shaw should be held in contempt of parliament and expelled.