The Victorian Premier, Denis Napthine, has released a video statement in which he says he will not introduce or support abortion legislation to restrict a woman’s right to choose.
The statement comes after today’s decision by the Director of Public Prosecutions to drop all criminal charges against Frankston MLA Geoff Shaw over alleged rorting of his travel entitlements.
The DPP’s decision ensures that the government will not face a risky by-election which would have ensued if Shaw had been convicted. The government has a one-seat majority in the Legislative Assembly and relies on Shaw’s vote. Elected as a Liberal, Shaw now sits as an independent after he resigned from the parliamentary party earlier this year and precipitated the resignation of former premier Ted Baillieu.
Shaw is engaged in a battle with the Assembly Speaker, Ken Smith, who last week protected the government’s position by expelling two Labor members and thereby guaranteeing the government’s survival until the new year. Smith’s survival as Speaker beyond January will be keenly watched in 2014.
There has been speculation that Shaw wants legislation to undo or restrict the decriminalisation of abortion that was passed on a conscience vote five years ago. At the time, Napthine opposed the legislation whilst Baillieu supported it.
With next year’s election now less than a year away, Napthine appears keen to take the abortion issue off the political agenda.
- Watch Napthine’s video statement (1m)