Napthine ridicules 'ludicrous' Geoff Shaw
From changing Victoria's abortion laws to discussions on judicial appointments, Premier Denis Napthine reveals some detail of his negotiations with independent MP Geoff Shaw's requests.PT0M0S 620 349
Victorian Premier Denis Napthine has insisted Geoff Shaw twice urged him to make a judicial appointment - but he can't remember the name Mr Shaw put forward because he could barely contain his laughter.
The balance-of-power independent has continued to cause headaches for the Victorian government since he was found to have misused his taxpayer-funded car.
Mr Shaw has been demanding the Premier ensure he avoids further punishment in Parliament over the matter and, according to the Premier, that he also make a particular judicial appointment.
Dr Napthine says that suggestion, made at least twice in recent weeks, was taken with "a truck load of salt".
"It was so extreme, so ludicrous, so ridiculous and dismissed out of hand," Dr Napthine told ABC Radio on Thursday.
"When somebody suggests to me that somebody be appointed to the judiciary, I can barely control my laughter."
In contrast to early statements, Dr Napthine said he's seeking advice on referring the matter to the state's anti-corruption watchdog, but he personally felt it was not a case of extortion or blackmail.
"I just thought it was naive in the extreme, at the very best," he said.
Mr Shaw, however, denies he ever used his balance of power to demand a judicial appointment.
Dr Napthine said the confusion may arise because the issue wasn't raised this week but in previous meetings with Mr Shaw.
By his own admission, Dr Napthine can't remember the name, or even what level of judiciary was being suggested by the rogue MP, which would make it difficult for an anti-corruption body to investigate.
The debate came as the Premier went on a morning media blitz, declaring that Mr Shaw's punishment for his "crimes" needs to stick.
But he stopped short of saying whether he would back his suspension or expulsion from Parliament - as being demanded by the state opposition.
"We don't want to be hasty," Dr Napthine told the Nine Network.
He said the focus should be on finding a punishment for the misuse of a taxpayer-funded car that would also prevent Mr Shaw from going to the High Court to immediately seek an injunction.
"It's vital that the Parliament deals with Mr Shaw, but they must deal with him in a way that is effective and in a way that can make sure Mr Shaw pays for his crimes, pays for his wrongdoing," he said.
Dr Napthine later told the Seven Network that he wants "cool heads" combined with proper legal advice in dealing with Mr Shaw.
"We've got to separate our personal view of Mr Shaw and his personality with what is appropriate punishment for the wrongdoings he has committed."
He also visited Victorian Governor-General Alex Chernov on Thursday morning but stressed it was simply a "routine" meeting over coffee and toast.
Deputy Opposition Leader James Merlino said the government is scared of expelling Mr Shaw as it would mean facing voters in a Frankston byelection.
Dr Napthine said he wasn't fussed about it. "I think we can win it," he told Fairfax Radio.
Opposition Leader Daniel Andrews says expelling the rogue MP is the only option.
Speaking on the Frankston foreshore a short drive from Mr Shaw's office on Thursday, Mr Andrews reiterated his calls for the Premier to support a Labor move to expel the balance-of-power MP from parliament.
Labor says the balance-of-power MP is in contempt of parliament for misusing his taxpayer-funded car.
"It is the only thing Denis Napthine can do if he is to live up to the tough talk and the words of recent days."
He said Labor was not prepared to compromise and that expulsion was the only way to deal with Mr Shaw.
"This needs to be dealt once and for all and properly- we need a byelection in Frankston," he said.
But Mr Andrews would not be drawn on whether expelling the Frankston MP would set a precedent that could come back to haunt other MPs.
"Mr Shaw's willful and systematic use for his own personal profit is unprecedented," he said.
The Labor leader was joined on Thursday by the party's candidate for Frankston, Helen Constas, who said she was ready for a byelection.
Mr Andrews said legal advice obtained by Labor provided "absolute clarity" that parliament could expel Mr Shaw, refuting claims by the Premier that the move could be challenged in the High Court.
Mr Andrews said Labor would speak more about this legal advice when parliament resumed on Tuesday.
"I would not propose to go down this path if I were not absolutely confident that this can be done, and that it must be done."
He justified the cost of a byelection in Frankston, saying the cost of "this circus continuing" was enormous.