FRANKSTON MP Geoff Shaw has refused to rule out a return to the party.
Mr Shaw yesterday informed his party he would become an independent. The bombshell contributed to the resignation of Premier Ted Baillieu last night.
Mr Shaw told the Weekly his actions reflected the Victorian people’s loss of confidence in the leadership of the party.
‘‘I put my resignation in separate to him (Mr Baillieu), we didn’t speak at all yesterday. He’s been terrific for the Liberal Party but have a look at the polling — have a look at what the people of Frankston were saying. If we want to win we need a change in leadership,’’ Mr Shaw said.
The state government holds a one seat advantage over Labor which could be lost following next month’s Lyndhurst by-election.
This would mean Mr Shaw would hold the balance of power but the controversial MP today did not rule out returning to the Liberal Party.
‘‘My options are open — I don’t like closing the door on anything,’’ Mr Shaw said.
Mr Shaw said his voice would be better heard from the cross-benches than as a Liberal MP under the former leadership and therefore his decision would benefit Frankston.
‘‘An independent voice doesn’t get lost in the crowd. It is louder.’’
Mr Shaw said the people of Frankston wanted the city to have a good image, be safe and secure and have more certainty in decisions about buildings.
‘‘They want a place they can be proud of."
In October last year, a report by State Ombudsman George Brouwer, which stopped short of calling for a police investigation, found Mr Shaw’s parliamentary Ford Territory had notched up about 8000 kilometres on commercial trips for the MP’s Carrum Downs hardware business, costing about $1350 in fuel.
Mr Brouwer recommended the Legislative Assembly consider referring Mr Shaw’s use of the car to its privileges committee to determine whether ‘‘that usage was a contempt of Parliament, an abuse of the privileges of the Parliament and/or a breach of the code of conduct established by the Members of Parliament (Register of Interests) Act, and, if so, what penalties should apply to Mr Shaw’’.
In a later embarrassment for the Liberal Party, Mr Shaw was accused of making an obscene gesture in parliament and calling members of the opposition wankers. He later insisted he had called them ‘‘whackers’’.
Mr Baillieu consistently defended the trouble-prone MP, praising him as a ‘‘good local member’’.
Labor called for the parliamentary car issue to be investigated by Victoria Police. Police were quoted yesterday as saying the investigation was ongoing but that it would be inappropriate to comment further.
Mr Shaw told the Weekly today that he had not been questioned by police and was unsure if an investigation was going on.
‘‘Is there even one going on or is it just something the Labor Party said? I haven’t been asked anything by the police.’’
Asked about his intentions for the next election, Mr Shaw said: ‘‘The election is a long way away. There’s a lot of work to do for Frankston in the lead-up to that.’’