Power play: Geoff Shaw is set to be expelled from the Liberal Party. Photo: Angela Wylie
The Victorian Liberal Party has begun the process of expelling balance-of-power Independent Geoff Shaw from the Liberal Party at the state assembly.
Mr Shaw resigned from the parliamentary Liberal Party in March 2013 precipitating the resignation of the former premier Ted Baillieu but he has remained a member of his local branch.
The move was announced by Victorian Liberal President Tony Snell at the Liberal State Assembly meeting on Friday night.
Under the constitution the Victorian Liberal Party has 21 days until a final vote is taken but Mr Shaw is almost certain to be cast out of the party in a move likely to further alienate the Frankston MP.
The move comes after Premier Denis Napthine ramped up claims Labor has been secretly plotting with balance of power independent Geoff Shaw to weaken the government's grip on power.
In a fresh attempt to regain political traction after becoming mired in chaos, Dr Napthine accused Labor of quietly working on Mr Shaw to ''cajole'' him into hampering the operation of the Parliament.
''Labor brief him, they cajole him, they encourage him,'' Dr Napthine told ABC radio. ''The Labor Party are spending an enormous amount of time to win his vote and to curry his favour, despite saying they would never accept his, quote, tainted vote.''
Labor has indeed been working closely with Mr Shaw, although the extent to which it has been influencing Mr Shaw's thinking is unclear.
Mr Shaw is making no secret of his dealings with Labor, despite previous hostilities. When Parliament is sitting, Mr Shaw consults with opposition Whip Marlene Kairouz to discuss the legislative agenda.
On Wednesday, after Mr Shaw voted with Labor to scuttle the government's business program, he said he was taking his role as an independent seriously.
''I'm … going through legislation that they (Labor) have a problem with and following it up,'' Mr Shaw told Fairfax Media.
He also voted with Labor to defeat legislation to set up a parliamentary budget office, which would have independently costed election policies. And he would not confirm he would support the financial bills that the budget needs to run the state, fuelling speculation Victoria could be heading for an early election.
Shadow attorney-general Martin Pakula said that on most occasions Labor was unaware of Mr Shaw's voting intentions until he voted. ''I'm not suggesting that no one from the Labor Party has any conversations with him,'' Mr Pakula said.
Coalition MPs are now openly hostile towards Mr Shaw. Ken Smith, who resigned as Speaker after Mr Shaw's declaration of no-confidence, has accused him of erratic behaviour and holding the government to ransom.
In a situation reminiscent of that facing the former minority Gillard government, the state government is talking up its success in passing legislation as evidence it has been getting on with running the state.
Mr Shaw has also expressed concern that the government had not provided him with sufficient time to consider legislation before it was introduced, or briefed him in detail.
Dr Napthine said he would review the government's communication with Mr Shaw to ensure he was briefed on all legislation.
''We believe we did brief him. If he's saying he wasn't, I'm happy to review the communications because we want open communications not just with Mr Shaw, but all members of Parliament.''
Mr Shaw told Fairfax Media on Thursday that Attorney-General Robert Clark briefed him on legislation to set up a parliamentary budget office only a short time before it was voted on. ''I said I'd be thinking about it and then before you know it, the bells are off,'' he said.
Dr Napthine denied the government's legislative agenda was in disarray, saying in the past year it had passed 73 pieces of legislation and lost only one.
''I'd emphasise that Mr Shaw is one vote in 88 … the vast majority of legislation has support on both sides of the house. In those circumstances Mr Shaw's vote is irrelevant.''
He said he had no plans to create a formal agreement with Mr Shaw and the independent MP had assured him he would back the government on issues of confidence and supply.