AAP: Geoff Shaw’s resignation from the Liberal Party is bad news for the Victorian government and worse news for the Premier, a political analyst says.
Monash University politics lecturer Zareh Ghazarian says the defection of the MP to the crossbenches is the realisation of the Coalition’s worst fears.
But while the government may limp on if it secures Mr Shaw’s support for the budget, the pressure is increasing on its leader, Dr Ghazarian says.
Premier Ted Baillieu has been under siege, with speculation of a leadership challenge and the emergence of secret tapes reportedly involving his own chief of staff Tony Nutt.
This latest development will put further pressure on him.
"It weakens his standing in the electorate," Dr Ghazarian said.
"He's going to really struggle to survive."
The one thing that might save him from being booted out of the top job was the lack of a suitable replacement, Dr Ghazarian said.
Planning Minister Matthew Guy is the name most often linked with rumblings of a leadership change.
But he is an upper house MP and there is a perceived barrier, though not a constitutional one, to him taking on the top job.
Richard Willingham: Peter Ryan will hold a press conference at 3.15pm on an Auditor-General's report.
Will be plenty of other questions to Mr Ryan on the week's events.
Josh Gordon: As Opposition Leader Daniel Andrews pointed out, don't expect a general election soon. In the short to medium term, the greater significance will be for Mr Baillieu's beleaguered leadership. If he was already in a world of pain yesterday, things are about to get a whole lot worse for him.
Henrietta Cook: Monash University politics lecturer Nick Economou says Victorians could go to the polls early if the Budget was unable to pass the Lower House or if a vote of no confidence in the government was not resolved after nine days.
"If a bill of special importance is defeated, there is an opportunity for the Premier to ask for fresh elections.
"This is a supply crisis."
He said Mr Shaw now held the balance of power and if he voted with Labor and a bill became deadlocked, Speaker Ken Smith would have to exercise a casting vote.
But Mr Baillieu said today that he had no intention of making Mr Shaw speaker to resolve any potential deadlock.
Mr Economou said Mr Shaw was an erratic MP and he was not sure of his motives.
"I am not sure what his game is - is he trying to put pressure on the Liberal Party to change its leadership?"
He said Mr Baillieu has resolutely defended Mr Shaw throughout a series of scandals, including allegations he had used his parliamentary car to run his business.
"I am sure Mr Baillieu would have loved to get rid of him but he couldn’t because he doesn’t have the numbers."
Richard Willingham: It's surprising, given the rowdiness that only one Labor MP, Martin Foley of Albert Park, has been booted so far.
Last question from the Opposition. It's Mr Andrews again. He cites a rise in crime, unemployment, hospital waiting lists.
"Is it any wonder that so many of the Premier's colleagues think his time is up?"
Mr Baillieu says the level of spending on hospitals, infrastructure and other areas is up.
He was very fired up and challenged Labor to get on board and support the economy.
Final Dixer of the day goes to Transport and Roads Minister Terry Mulder, on texting while driving and new laws cracking down on the widespread practice.
He tells the story of a woman who died while texting and driving.
The house is silent.
Question Time ends.
Richard Willingham: In Parliament, the rowdiness continues ...
Mr Merlino asks Mr Bailieu, via a point of order, "Where is the Liberal Party's white knight?"
In Mr Andrews’ fourth question; he cites the 6.1 per cent unemployment rate and the fact Victoria has slipped into recession.
"When will the Premier start working to save Victorian jobs, rather than his own job?"
Premier: Mr Andrews doesn't understand the fundamentals of the economy. The economy is strong, interstate exports are a key component of the state economy.
"There are encouraging figures in today's data." He cites investment and consumption figures.
The Member for Mornington, David Morris asks Attorney-General Robert Clark a Dixer on organised crime and gang activity.
"The previous government failed to act on it ..." Clark says, pointing to the Baillieu government's tough anti-gang laws introduced late last year.
Richard Willingham: Mr Ryan took the second Dorothy Dixer of the day on an Auditor-General's report on unplanned leave in emergency services.
Mr Andrews asked the third question. He cited the ‘‘secret tapes scandal", the IBAC investigation, Geoff Shaw's resignation.
"Isnt it a fact that this government barely exists, and if it does it is paralysed by crisis?"
Premier Baillieu: "We have set out a very clear agenda."
Labor MPs erupt, interjecting "was a recession part of the agenda?"
Mr Baillieu then listed his Government's reforms, including stamp duty, ambulance membership costs, planning reform.
"We are leading the way on the NDIS and education reform,'' Mr Baillieu said.
Mr Andrews: "You are Gonski old boy!"
Deputy Labor Leader James Merlino raised a point of order: "If it is so good why did Geoff Shaw leave?"
The rowdy qeustion time is being watched from the galleries by many upper house from both sides of politics.
Mr Baillieu then took aDorothy Ddixer on the success of the White Night Festival.
Richard Willingham: Mr Andrews: Has the Premier received an assurance from the member for Frankston that he will support the government?
Premier Baillieu said the house had already tested the numbers on the floor. It won a vote 43-42 (it should be noted that there is one vacant seat - Tim Holding's old seat of Lyndhurst. Labor should win it, which would tie a vote 43-43 and give Mr Shaw a casting vote).
Richard Willingham: Question Time has began. It is rowdy, the Opposition's first question from Daniel Andrews to Premier Baillieu was whether the Premier valued his "majority more than his integrity".
Speaker Ken Smith ruled it out of order but Labor's Jacinta Allan challenged it. She had no luck.
The first Dorothy Dixer was about the expansion of the Mars chocolate factory in Ballarat.
Richard Willingham: Opposition Leader Daniel Andrews said the government was in "absolute crisis".
"This is a government that has stopped governing, they simply lurch from one crisis to the next that's not what Victorians voted for."
Mr Andrews said Labor did not know what Mr Shaw's intentions were.
Mr Andrews said getting to an election may be altogether more complicated than people think.
"Geoff Shaw has sacked Ted Baillieu, and that leaves Ted Baillieu with no majority and no integrity."
Mr Andrews said he did not want the chaos of Canberra, with MPs running out of parliament during votes, replicated.
AAP: Mr Andrews said he would not actively pursue Mr Shaw’s vote.
"How Mr Shaw votes is up to him," Mr Andrews said.
"I don’t think Mr Shaw will be offering his vote to anyone. I won't seek his vote and I will not seek to change the dynamic on the floor to seek his vote.
"That circus is run up in Canberra and I won’t be doing it here."
He said every Victorian is keen to see why Mr Shaw has effectively sacked Mr Baillieu and the Liberal Party.
"‘He is not so much running a government, he is running a complete and utter circus," he said.
"This government is doing nothing to deliver for the people of this state other than to lurch from one crisis to the next."
The Age: Mr Andrews, asked by reporters if he was prepared to talk to Mr Shaw about accepting his vote told reporters: "I won’t seek his vote and I wouldn’t seek to change the dynamic on the floor (of parliament)."
He also placed a different angle on the event: "Geoff Shaw has sacked Ted Baillieu."
Richard Willingham: Premier Baillieu has emerged from the emergency coalition party meeting as leader.
He said he had not spoken to Mr Shaw, who gave the government a letter this morning.
Mr Baillieu said he was "very confident" he could run a strong government but he had not spoken to the Governor.
The premier said he would not call an early election.
"I'm not going to get into the details of what might and might not happen."
"We will govern with decisiveness and courage".Mr Baillieu said he did not know of any of the reasons why Mr Shaw resigned.
"I understand he will consider his position," Mr Baillieu said.The Premier said he did not believe Mr Shaw would quit parliament.
Asked if he was angry Mr Baillieu said "my job does not allow me the luxury of emotions."
The premier will still fly to India for a trade mission.
He batted away questions over his leadership, regarding Mr Shaw's resignation.
The Age: "I'm confident we can continue to govern," says Mr Baillieu, when he leaves the crisis meeting, and refuses to take questions. Then he heads off for question time in the Lower House.
Adrian Lowe: Premier Ted Baillieu has reaffirmed his support for two senior advisers as controversy swirls over their dealings with a disgraced former staffer - and as pressure continues to mount over his own leadership.
Earlier report: Victorian Premier Ted Baillieu is facing criticism from his own backbench amid continuing leadership speculation but insists his government is united.
Liberal backbencher Bill Tilley said that while he believed Mr Baillieu was listening, the government's leadership team needed to revamp the way it dealt with the backbench.
Josh Gordon: Mr Shaw's resignation leaves the Coalition with 44 seats, the ALP with 43, although, as the Speaker does not vote by convention, the Coalition must rely on Mr Shaw's vote as an independent to remain in government. The coalition will need to convince the Victorian Governor. Alex Chernov, that Parliament remains workable.
Richard Willingham: Some ministers have now left the Premier's office They remain silent and look sullen.
Richard Willingham: Coalition MPs have filed into a special party meeting. Premier Baillieu did not respond to questions, he walked on with his deputy Peter Ryan. He was greeted by factional boss Inga Peulich as he entered.
Richard Willingham: Labor has already tested the numbers calling a division just before 1pm.
They lost the vote 43-42, but would have been 43 each if Lyndhurst is won by Labor at byelection, which they should.
Labor MPs shouted ‘‘crisis’’ during the vote.
Richard Willingham: Mr Baillieu's spokesman Paul price said the coalition would meet at 1pm to discuss the matter before question time without Mr Shaw.
Mr Price said there was "no horses that need claiming" in relation to speculation over the Premier's leadership.
Richard Willingham: Labor calls for a division in the lower house. Everyone is waiting to see if the member for Frankston turns up. So far, Shaw has made no appearance.
The Age: See our earlier breaking news coverage here:
AAP: Mr Shaw's move has serious implications for the coalition’s grip on power.If he remains in parliament, the government would likely have to rely on Mr Shaw’s vote to pass laws.
The coalition now has 44 seats to Labor’s 42. Labor’s number will increase to 43 after the byelection for the safe Labor seat of Lyndhurst on April 27.
Opposition Leader Daniel Andrews said Mr Shaw would have to tick off everything the government wanted to do if he remained in parliament as an independent.
"It would seem that every piece of legislation, everything this government wants to do, will now have to be the product of a negotiation with Geoff Shaw, and in that endeavour I wish Ted Baillieu luck. I think he’ll need it," Mr Andrews told Fairfax Radio.
Senior coalition MPs, including most of the ministry, met Wednesday morning.Coalition members will have another gathering this afternoon when they will be advised of Mr Shaw's actions.
Mr Shaw will not attend that meeting.