A controversial MP suspended from the Victorian Liberal party for nine months for attending an anti-trans rights rally crashed by neo-Nazis says she made an error of judgment.
Moira Deeming said she accepts the suspension after initially defending her attendance at the rally but stopped short of an apology and denied having any ties to Nazism.
"I have accepted that my attendance at the Let Women Speak event on the steps of the Victorian Parliament on Saturday 18 March may have been an error of judgement," she said in a statement on Monday night.
"I accept the suspension given to me by my colleagues. As I have stated, I unreservedly condemn the poor taste Nazi jokes and Nazi analogies listed in the annex of evidence against me.
"I believe I am innocent of all imputations and accusations of any connection whatsoever with Nazism in any shape or form and any bigotry whatsoever toward the LGBTQI+ community."
Ms Deeming initially faced expulsion, a move triggered by Opposition Leader John Pesutto after she spoke at an anti-trans rights event outside Victorian parliament on March 18.
But she was instead suspended for nine months following an emotional two-hour meeting on Monday.
Mr Pesutto said he put forward the suspension proposal after Ms Deeming condemned Nazism and bigotry against the LGBTQI community.
Ms Deeming made those concessions in a signed memorandum to Mr Pesutto at 6.30am on Monday before the 10am meeting.
"She's suspended from the party room and what she's accepted is that our discussions around this must always be respectful, and inclusive, even if people disagree," he said.
Ms Deeming will lose her position as party whip in the Legislative Council, a role that ensures members are in the chamber for votes.
The upper house MP had a lot to prove before she could return to the party room, Mr Pesutto said.
"She has to show her colleagues that she's going to be a team player in the future," he said.
Ms Deeming walked into the meeting at state parliament flanked by colleagues Renee Heath, Ryan Smith, Bev McArthur, Richard Riordan and Joe McCracken.
"Regardless of what happens here today, I have one message: I do not believe for one second that Moira is a Nazi or a Nazi sympathiser, or has any association with Nazis," fellow Legislative Council MP Nick McGowan told journalists before the meeting.
Ms Deeming left the vote without speaking to media, although she previously said she had done nothing wrong and her colleagues were unjustly condemning her.
The Melbourne rally that led to Monday's meeting was organised by British anti-trans activist Kellie-Jay Keen-Minshull and attended by neo-Nazis who repeatedly performed the Nazi salute.
It sparked community outrage and a commitment from the Victorian government to fast-track a ban on the gesture.
Mr Pesutto accused Ms Deeming of bringing discredit to the party over her association with rally figures with alleged links to extremists and failing to leave the event when neo-Nazis showed up.
But the opposition leader on Monday said Ms Deeming had condemned the anti-trans activist and neo-Nazis, albeit later than he would have liked.
He maintained his party was stronger because of the vote and he was confident he would remain leader.
"Today's a turning point for us," Mr Pesutto said.
"Everyone now knows what, under my leadership, is required in terms of embracing all Victorians."
Victorian Equality Minister Harriet Shing criticised the Liberal Party's actions, describing the result as abhorrent.
Australian Associated Press
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