Tuesday could be one of the biggest days of independent Member for Frankston Geoff Shaw’s political life. He is braced for possible expulsion from parliament, and certain to face a verbal barrage from both sides.
A parliamentary pariah, the former Liberal MP been avoiding the media, but was willing to talk to good friend and former AFL star Jason Akermanis, who interviewed Mr Shaw on behalf of The New Daily.
Both men know what it’s like to find yourself in the margins of a team environment.
“Bullying is where this begins,” ‘Aker’, says. “Four years ago next month I was personally in a very similar situation with football.
“Before you start the same comments about myself or ‘Shawry’ just let it be know if we don’t know you, we don’t care what you think. Unless of course you live in Frankston.”
Jason Akermanis: Do you feel like there’s a witch hunt for Geoff Shaw?
Geoff Shaw: I’ve had multiple investigations – Ombudsman, police, courts, privilege committee – all coming up with different opinions but all stating I have done nothing (like) breaking any law or any entitlement.
The media, Labor, Liberal are all after me for political gain and selling newspapers. None are happy with the verdicts and (they) don’t like an independent voice that differs from theirs. This is why they want me out. Besides doing the best for Frankston – in fact the best any politician ever has for Frankston – what have they against me?
You said you would support a vote of no confidence in the government? Is that still the case and if so, have you communicated that personally to Daniel Andrews?
Haven’t spoken to Daniel Andrews and never have. Just because you lose confidence in your team doesn’t mean you want them to be defeated. By saying that though, I’d still take the moral cowards [coalition] over the morally corrupt people [Labor]. I have no confidence in Labor at all.
What specific event or issue has caused you to lose confidence in the government of Victoria?
The government was showing no leadership regarding Ken Smith’s comments to vote with Labor to expel me. Denis Napthine could have reeled Ken in but he didn’t.
Denis Napthine also unreasonably refused my specific request regarding changes to the abortion laws. Jason you and I both have children and I believe that no child with a heart beat should be killed and that every innocent human life should be protected.
I mentioned this in parliament and any government that does not change these [laws] are moral cowards. The Liberal party are and they don’t like being called that. Labor are morally corrupt and they don’t like that either.
So let’s all him rogue and suspend him and rid him for good. For what exactly?
What evidence do you have that the government urged former speaker Ken Smith to vote with Labor to find you guilty of contempt of parliament?
If the government didn’t urge Ken they have certainly not deterred him.
Denis Napthine was happy to criticise [Western Metropolitan MP] Bernie Finn over his abortion comments. And he was happy to call me rogue when I said I have no confidence in him for not reeling Ken [Smith] in and for his morally gutless stance on changes to the abortion laws. Why did he not do the same publicly to Ken? It is because they are good friends, yet it is Ken’s comments and actions that could bring down the government. Did you know Ken is believed to be the most kicked out politician in the history of parliament – yet he wants to [be] rid [of] me for some personal vendetta.
Who was the person you wanted to get appointed to the judiciary?
I raised with Denis Napthine the issue of the quality of judicial appointments by the former government, with nothing specific, and stated I was concerned with the court system overall after what I went through last year. The time wasting for police and others in the court system is pathetic.
Can you detail then the other so-called “demands” which led to Dr Napthine’s press conference last Tuesday night?
I had general conversations regarding what I wanted for Frankston and specifically the abortion laws I wanted changed. There is no secret here. I have always been a passionate advocate for Frankston and pro life.
How would you describe the media coverage of you and the current controversy surrounding you?
You have been there Jason. Sideline commentators behind their computers printing out their bile to beat something up as a controversy. Every speech that I make has to be backed by some type of fact. The media back theirs with gossip and slander and the ever-present comments from Mr and Mrs Anonymous.
Many people have told my office about ringing up talk back radio but when they find out the caller supports me they are not allowed on. Also with letters to the editor. Good news Geoff Shaw stories are drowned out by the medias bias and agenda.
You are a member of parliament whose actions and decisions could bring down a government, possibly within days. Pretty powerful stuff if you had an ego. How does that make you feel?
I have first and foremost served the people of Frankston and represented them in Parliament. I believe doing what is right over what is necessarily popularly thought by other members of parliament. We are to have a voice and I’ve used mine for the good of Frankston and unborn children.
The Victorian parliamentary privileges committee found you guilty of contravening the code of conduct for MPs – for misusing your parliamentary car and fuel card in 2011 to help run your hardware business – but concluded the misuse was “not wilful”. You paid it back in full. What are they still on about after all this time?
They didn’t receive the verdict they wanted and still want blood.
What’s your reaction to the call by Opposition Leader Daniel Andrews to have you expelled from parliament?
He is grandstanding trying to have his name recognition up. It is all about politics not the people. A sad state of affairs [when] these two “leaders” of Victorian politics [are] acting like this.
What kind of precedent would this create if an elected MP could be expelled by the parliament over an expenses claim even though very powerful police and judges have said you have nothing to answer to now?
More media need to get that Jason! Remember these are just guidelines not regulations or laws!
So one of the guidelines is that you have to have the car serviced on the due kilometre reading for warranty sake. What if you go in for your 15000kms service at 16000kms? Well you have broken the guidelines. I complied with the guidelines but as the Ombudsman pointed out, the guidelines where ambiguous. They have now been changed. Doesn’t that say a lot?
If you (heaven forbid) were expelled from parliament, would you stand in the by-election in the seat of Frankston or another seat at the next general election?
I intend to.
You were elected to parliament as a Liberal, but now you’re an independent and have declared you would vote against the Liberal government in a non-confidence motion. What do you now think of the party which supported your pre-selection to become an MP and the premier that leads that party?
I have friends in the Liberal party but I believe the current moral cowardice [of their] stance on abortion by the party is shocking and has angered many Liberal Party members.
Should any individual MP in any parliament in Australia have the power that now lies in your hands?
Every pollie should be a voice for their community. I have been very vocal. That’s what I was voted in to do – represent Frankston to the best of my ability and that is what I have done. Every pollie has that power but choose to vote with there party. Well I’m for people not parties
What will you do if you are expelled by the parliament?
How ridiculous if it got to that! May as well expel all the others as well. Tony Abbott for one and Gillard should be given the same treatment for their car use. Like you [demonstrate] mate, there is life after footy and politics.
What does this affair say about the quality of democracy in Australia?
I think the treasurer said it well – this is Parliament of Victoria, not the big brother house. You don’t expel someone because you don’t like them. To leave Frankston without a voice in Parliament for six months would be a travesty.
Did you ever think politics was going to be this serious? Whatever happened to kissing babies and smiling at people you’ve never met for their approval or vote?
What matters mate are the people of Frankston. It’s where I live. It’s where I grew up, went to school, had a family and had a business. I’ve never wanted to do politics, I just wanted results and that’s what I’ve achieved.