Napthine Government On The Brink As Shaw Supports No-Confidence Motion And Governor Consults Opposition Leader

The Victorian Governor, Alex Chernov, has today met with the Opposition Leader, Daniel Andrews, whilst the maverick Liberal MP, Geoff Shaw, has said he will support a no-confidence motion against the Napthine government.

Donohue

The meeting was reported on Channel 7 at 6pm. Reporter Brendan Donohue said the meeting was to discuss the “instability” in parliament. It is not known if Chernov sought Premier Denis Napthine’s permission to consult with the Opposition Leader. In the constitutional crisis of 1975, Prime Minister Gough Whitlam gave the Governor-General, Sir John Kerr, permission to consult with the Opposition Leader, Malcolm Fraser.

Earlier, the member for Frankston, Geoff Shaw, said he would support a no-confidence motion against the Napthine government. He said he no longer trusted the government and expressed concern that the government would allow the former Speaker, Ken Smith, to vote with the ALP to suspend of expel Shaw on the basis of a Privileges Committee report into his use of travel allowances.

Shaw maintained that he wanted to see out his term. Elected as a Liberal in 2010, Shaw resigned from the parliamentary Liberal Party in March 2012, precipitating the resignation of the former premier, Ted Baillieu. Shaw’s conflict with Ken Smith precipitated Smith’s resignation as Speaker earlier this year. Shaw resigned from the Liberal Party in March, just days before the party was due to vote to expel him.

Shaw’s vote is crucial to the government’s survival. The Liberal-Nationals coalition holds 44 votes to the ALP’s 43. After providing the Speaker, the government has 43 votes on the floor of the Legislative Assembly. It is defeated if Shaw votes with the ALP.

In considering the report of the Privileges Committee on Shaw’s behaviour, a motion to suspend or expel Shaw would succeed if Ken Smith votes with the ALP. A suspension would mean that the House would be deadlocked at 43-43 and the government would rely on the Speaker’s casting vote. A Labor victory in a by-election for Shaw’s seat would give the ALP a majority on the floor of the House but it would be unable to provide a Speaker and also form government.

Victoria’s parliament has a fixed four-year term with an election due on November 29 this year. Section 8a of the Victorian Constitution stipulates that an earlier dissolution of the Legislative Assembly can only take place if a no-confidence motion in the government is first carried. It provides for a subsequent 8-day period in which a motion of confidence in the government can be moved. An initial three days notice of the no-confidence motion must be given.

The Legislative Assembly meets again next Tuesday, June 10.

UPDATE: Two hours after the Channel 7 report was broadcast, the office of the Victorian Governor issued a statement saying that Chernov’s meeting with Andrews was a regular meeting that was scheduled a fortnight ago. The statement said the Governor meets regularly with the Premier, the Opposition Leader and the leaders of other parties.

  • Listen to Channel 7’s News Report (4m)
  • Watch Channel 7’s Report (4m)
  • Listen to Geoff Shaw’s interview with Raf Epstein (15m)
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