VICTORIAN backbencher Geoff Shaw has reportedly quit the parliamentary Liberal Party, with potentially huge ramifications for an under-pressure Baillieu government, which holds power with a one-seat majority.
It is unclear whether Mr Shaw will resign from parliament or remain in the lower house as an independent, The Age reports.
Radio station 3AWsays members of parliament have been called into Premier Ted Baillieu office for a meeting.
A number of ministers walking into the Premier’s office appeared worried. Matthew Guy, Michael O’Brien, Kim Wells and Robert Clark were among them.
Police said on Wednesday that they were still investigating allegations of misconduct in public office by the Frankston MP, ‘‘ as the investigation is ongoing, it would be inappropriate to comment further’’.
The Liberal-National coalition holds 45 seats in the 88-seat lower house and the ALP, 43.
If Mr Shaw becomes an independent and sits on the cross-benches, it will leave the Coalition with 44 seats, the ALP with 43 and Mr Shaw with the remaining seat.
Mr Shaw won his seat – Frankston North – by 51.7 per cent to 48.3 per cent on a two-party-preferred basis in 2010. He won the seat from the ALP with a 4.4 per cent swing.
If Mr Shaw goes to the crossbench, as is being reported, the government’s majority will be protected for the next two months, as the next member for the safe Labor seat of Lyndhurst won’t be elected until May 18, replacing former minister Tim Holding, who has already left parliament.
The latest development comes amid mounting speculation about Ted Baillieu's leadership.
Liberal backbencher Bill Tilley said while he believed Mr Baillieu was listening, the government’s leadership team needed to revamp the way it dealt with the backbench.
‘‘It’s a management thing,’’ Mr Tilley said.
‘‘There should be some further and significant conversations: how to interact with the executive and the backbenchers to deliver the right, the proper and accurate messages to Victoria.’’
Mr Tilley is annoyed with Mr Baillieu over comments he made about him in parliament on Tuesday.
Mr Baillieu told parliament Mr Tilley quit his role as parliamentary secretary to Police Minister Peter Ryan because his conduct was inconsistent with the role.
Mr Tilley said he was unhappy with the Premier’s comments and wanted to speak with him on Wednesday.
‘‘I was annoyed and, look, I’ll address it directly with the premier. I’ll ask to see him and take it from there,’’ he said.
‘‘There was some inaccuracies and I just want to correct those.
‘‘They’re taking some things from a report that was tabled by the Office of Police Integrity (OPI) and adding some things that certainly weren’t part of that report.’’
Mr Tilley resigned as parliamentary secretary after he was criticised by the OPI over a plot to oust former chief police commissioner Simon Overland.