'Enough is enough' for rogue MP Shaw
Geoff Shaw to learn his political fate today, with opposition leader Daniel Andrews saying the Parliament needs to act against the independent MP. Nine News.PT0M0S 620 349
Labor is willing to negotiate with the Coalition on key legislation to ensure Victoria's shaky Parliament survives until the next election if Geoff Shaw is booted from office.
In a move certain to trigger more chaos and distractions for the Napthine government, the opposition will try on Tuesday to expel the balance-of-power independent from Parliament for misuse of his government vehicle.
Rolling coverage as the crisis in Victoria's Parliament unfolds at theage.com.au
Former speaker Ken Smith. Photo: Joe Armao
The government has the power to block Labor's attempt to sanction the MP. But if Labor were to succeed within the next two sitting weeks, it would result in a byelection in Frankston, potentially denying the Coalition the numbers needed to govern.
Speaker Christine Fyffe said if Labor's motion to expel Mr Shaw were successful within the next two sitting weeks, she would issue the writ for a byelection in the south-eastern seat, held by a margin of just 2.1 per cent on the present boundaries.
''If the motion to expel Shaw gets up this week or the following sitting week there will be a byelection,'' Ms Fyffe told The Age.
Independent MP Geoff Shaw. Photo: Joe Armao
An opposition win in Frankston would give Labor 44 votes in Parliament, leaving the Coalition with 43 votes, excluding the Speaker.
But Labor is keen to avoid inflicting an early election, partly because it would mean the next term of government would run for three rather than four years under a constitutional quirk introduced by former premier Steve Bracks.
Shadow treasurer Tim Pallas said he believed the next election would be held as planned on November 29 but warned the Coalition might need to negotiate with Labor rather than Mr Shaw to pass legislation.
''It may well require that the government has to amend its view about what legislation it is capable of getting through the Parliament,'' Mr Pallas said. ''Clearly it is open to the government to continue to govern in circumstances where the numbers on floor are tied.''
Former Liberal Speaker Ken Smith said on Friday he would back Labor's push to expel Mr Shaw, saying he did not want him suspended with pay.
''I want him out of the place, he is a disgrace. I'm voting with the Labor people,'' he said.
But even with Mr Smith's support it is unclear whether Labor's move to expel Mr Shaw would succeed - if the government denied Labor leave in Parliament to table its motion.
On Monday, Mr Smith was giving little away, telling The Age he would be looking at all the options on the table before making a decision.
The government appears to be leaning towards a suspension for Mr Shaw, which would avoid a by-election, but it has not yet publicly declared its intentions.
It is understood the Napthine government has received legal advice, which suggests Mr Shaw could challenge any expulsion in court, by arguing the misuse of his taxpayer-funded car was not a ''serious breach of parliamentary privilege''.
It has also been pointed out that similar behaviour has gone unpunished.
In 2004 the former Labor MP for Frankston, Alistair Harkness, used his taxpayer-funded fuel card and car to drive a worker campaigning for former Queensland premier Peter Beattie around Brisbane. At the time, the former Liberal opposition said this was not a breach of the then parliamentary rules.
And in 2007 former prime minister Julia Gillard repaid the Department of Finance more than $400 after her partner Tim Mathieson misused a taxpayer-funded car to sell haircare products in Victoria.
Government MPs are increasingly nervous about the government's parliamentary problems, with some senior insiders expressing anger at Mr Smith for jeopardising the Coalition's grip on power.