Premier holds firm as Geoff Shaw threatens to bring down government

Premier Denis Napthine says he won't be held to ransom by rogue independant MP Geoff Shaw, who has threatened to support a no-confidence motion against the  government. Picture: DAMIAN WHITE

Premier Denis Napthine says he won't be held to ransom by rogue independant MP Geoff Shaw, who has threatened to support a no-confidence motion against the government. Picture: DAMIAN WHITE

UPDATE: AN EXTRAORDINARY vice-regal meeting could occur tomorrow to break the parliamentary deadlock in Spring Street.

Opposition Leader Daniel Andrews said he would seek Governor Alex Chernov's advice in a bipartisan meeting with the Premier at Government House.

However, ABC political analyst Antony Green said the Governor could only act on the advice of the Premier.

"I think this will run for days and days," he told ABC News 24 on Tuesday evening.

"I'd be surprised if there was a meeting with the Premier, Mr Andrews and the Governor tomorrow.

"We'll have to wait and see."

More in tomorrow's edition of The Standard

EARLIER:VICTORIA may face an early election as independent MP Geoff Shaw dramatically pulled support for the Napthine Government.

Premier Denis Napthine attacked Mr Shaw in a dramatic press conference on Tuesday evening, claiming he made an "outrageous" series of demands in return for his support.

"Let me assure you and let me assure all Victorians, I as Premier, and this government will not be held to ransom by Mr Shaw," Dr Napthine told reporters.

"We will continue to govern in the best interests of all Victorians."

Earlier, Mr Shaw declared he no longer trusted the Napthine government and would support a no-confidence motion against Dr Napthine.

Opposition Leader Daniel Andrews is due to hold a press conference soon to announce whether he will bring on a vote of no confidence in the government.

Mr Shaw said on Tuesday that he believed the Coalition was encouraging former Speaker Ken Smith to vote with Labor on finding Mr Shaw guilty of contempt of parliament.

Dr Napthine said the government would continue to pursue its budget in the parliament.

He said that if he could have called an election six or 12 months ago, he would have been "very tempted".

"This afternoon I spoke to Mr Shaw. Mr Shaw put to me what were unreasonable demands on me as premier and on the government. I will not be held to ransom by those demands," he said.

He said that it was now up to Mr Andrews as the Leader of the Opposition as to whether he wished to deal with the rogue MP for Frankston.

It comes after reports that Opposition Leader Daniel Andrews was summoned to Government House to meet with Victorian Governor Alex Chernov.

Channel Seven reported that Mr Andrews was summoned to discuss the state of the parliament, but Labor told Channel Seven that it would not comment on the discussions with the Governor.

Labor was surprised by Mr Shaw's announcement on Tuesday evening and senior members of the Opposition are holding a meeting. 

Mr Smith, meanwhile, said he had no intention of changing his mind.

He said he would still vote with Labor to find Mr Shaw in contempt of parliament for misusing his taxpayer-funded car.

"I have no intention of backing down. I will not be changing my mind," he told The Age. 

For his part, Mr Shaw told radio station 774 ABC: "It has become abundantly clear to me that over recent times the government has encouraged the former speaker to actively consider crossing the floor and voting with Labor, in any move that can be made to expel me from parliament".

"I've sought assurances from the Premier that this not be allowed to happen, so I can serve out my term for the people of Frankston.

"This assurance hasn't been given and really, I don't trust them anymore and I will support a no confidence motion in the Premier and in the government."

Asked if he was aware the no-confidence motion would bring down the Government, Mr Shaw said: ‘‘Life goes on".

In a complicated process, three days' notice must be given for any motion, with an eight-day cooling-off period after that allowed for a "confidence motion" in the Government.

The new leader put forward could be Mr Andrews or any other lower house MP.

If a confidence motion is not put forward within the eight-day period, Mr Chernov would have to intervene and there would be an early election.

MP Geoff Shaw. Picture: MICHAEL CLAYTON-JONES

MP Geoff Shaw. Picture: MICHAEL CLAYTON-JONES

Mr Shaw said he held Dr Napthine in "high regard" but the coalition could not guarantee the Frankston MP seeing out his term in the parliament.

Mr Shaw said three different inquiries into his affairs had made different conclusions.

The Frankston MP, who quit the Liberal Party last year leading to the resignation of former premier Ted Baillieu, said he supported the budget.

He slammed both sides of the parliament for trying to ‘‘muzzle’’ him for over three years, labelling Labor ‘‘union thugs’’ and the government ‘‘business spokespeople’’.

‘‘I’ve had a continuation of three years of harassment from both sides, plus [the] media,’’ he said.

He said it was clear that the government could not control its own side, but also gave Mr Smith a backhanded compliment by saying it was good to hear another ‘‘independent’’ voice in parliament.

He said he aimed to serve out his term and run at the election, but both sides wanted him out and did not want to discuss abortion reform.

‘‘Both sides want to muzzle me, they both want me out, they don’t want to talk about the abortion issue,’’ Mr Shaw said.

A Coalition MP slammed the behaviour of Mr Smith and Mr Shaw, saying they were shocked by the constitutional crisis that was gripping the government.

‘‘It is appalling that Ken Smith said he would vote with Labor and now Mr Shaw says he will vote with Labor. They are meant to be anti-Labor,’’ the MP said.

-WITH THE AGE

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