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Vic Premier ‘held to ransom’

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Maverick independent MP Geoff Shaw is threatening to bring down Victoria’s coalition government if Labor moves a motion of no confidence against it.

Mr Shaw has accused the government of encouraging the former Speaker he helped oust, Ken Smith, to cross the floor and support Labor in its move to find Mr Shaw in contempt of parliament for misusing his parliamentary car.

“I don’t trust (the coalition) any more, and I will support a no-confidence motion in the premier and the government,” Shaw said.

Premier Denis Napthine fronted a press conference vehemently dismissing the motion.

Vic Premier Denis Napthine.
Vic Premier Denis Napthine.

“Let me assure you and let me assure all Victorians, I as Premier, and this government, will not be held to ransom by Mr Shaw,” Dr Napthine said.

The Premier called Shaw a “rogue MP” who made “ludicrous demands”.

The Liberal-turned-independent holds the balance of power in the Legislative Assembly.

A parliamentary privileges committee report, dominated by coalition MPs, last week found Mr Shaw had breached the MP code of conduct by misusing his parliamentary vehicle and said he should repay more than $6000.

It recommended no further punishment for the Frankston MP, angering Labor MPs and Mr Smith.

Mr Smith has said he will support Labor’s contempt motion, which if successful would put Mr Shaw’s immediate political future in doubt.

The Victorian parliament is due to sit again next Tuesday.

“Both sides have wanted to muzzle me for over three years. Both sides want me out, so I have had a continuation of three years of harassment from both sides, plus the media,” Mr Shaw said.

“The government has shown they can’t control one of their own, and it wouldn’t surprise me if the government have had Ken Smith actually do that himself.

“But it’s good to have another voice in parliament, another independent voice in parliament, and at least Ken Smith has had the courage to speak up.”

Mr Shaw said he believed part of the reason both Labor and the coalition want him removed from the parliament is his proposed private member’s bill aimed at tightening Victoria’s abortion laws, arguing that “any Australian child with a heartbeat should not be killed”.

He took a 15-day, partly taxpayer-funded trip to the United States that included a review of abortion legislation in several American states.

“Both sides want me out. Both sides don’t want me to talk about the abortion issue,” he said.

Mr Shaw said he did not know if he would be in parliament before the state election on November 29.

“That’s up to people, unfortunately, in parliament. In this whole saga, the only thing that suffers is democracy,” he said.

“The people of Frankston, from what I hear, will be left without a member of parliament and without someone to represent them.

“Now, I don’t think that’s true democracy.”

-AAP