Geoff Shaw's no confidence motion
Premier Denis Napthine says he will not be ‘‘held to ransom’’ by MP Geoff Shaw, and calls on Labor to bring on its no-confidence motion or resolve the state’s political crisis. Nine News.PT2M21S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-39hnh 620 349 June 4, 2014
The situation now confronting the state parliament could have made a plot for a Shakespearean drama.
Two men, once from the same house, now bitter rivals, risk toppling the king because they cannot see beyond their own blind hatred for one another.
Victorian Independent MP Geoff Shaw. Photo: Angela Wylie
Liberal MPs are privately furious at Ken Smith, who last week needled a festering wound by vowing to side with Labor on any vote to find balance-of-power MP Geoff Shaw in contempt of the parliament.
Mr Smith, in turn, was furious about losing his job as speaker in March after Mr Shaw said he had no confidence in his ability to control the parliament.
And now it’s Mr Shaw’s turn to be furious at Mr Smith all over again.
MP Geoff Shaw. Photo: Michael Clayton-Jones
The Frankston MP has seen and raised Mr Smith’s promise to side with Labor on any contempt motion by declaring he will vote with Labor on any no-confidence motion against Premier Denis Napthine.
Such a declaration cannot be taken lightly.
Indeed, if Mr Shaw were to side with Labor on a no-confidence motion, Victoria would be plunged into a constitutional crisis which would likely bring down the Government.
Under section 8A of the state constitution, an early election would require a successful ''no-confidence'' motion in the Premier and other ministers.
Provided Mr Shaw wasn’t having a lend, right now Labor has the numbers to successfully pass such a motion.
With Mr Shaw's support, Labor would control 44 votes, to the Coalition’s 43 votes (with the speaker out of the equation on questions of confidence).
As one senior Labor strategist put it: “Ken Smith gave us a gun to shoot Geoff Shaw; Geoff Shaw has now given us a gun to shoot the entire government".
Spot on. The big question is whether Labor decides to pull the trigger.
Chances are the public would not be impressed: not only might Labor be seen as unfairly in cahoots with Mr Shaw by accepting his vote, voters might also be peeved about being forced to the polls just months before the election is due.
There are also questions as to whether Mr Shaw might back down if Mr Smith is convinced by Dr Napthine to toe the line and vote with the Coalition.
Both Mr Smith and Mr Shaw are stubborn characters.
Mr Shaw has previously shown a willingness to wield his balance-of-power position to maximum effect.
Mr Smith too, has apparently been unable to shrug off the past and move on in the best interests of the Government.
Right now, Dr Napthine can do little but to promise to continue governing and hope to stare Mr Shaw down by declaring he “will not be held to ransom”, as he did on Tuesday night.
The ball is well and truly in Labor’s court.