THE political crisis that is gripping Victoria began with a phone call in a McDonald’s car park in Ballarat.
Only a short time after meeting with The Courier on Tuesday for a roads announcement, Dr Napthine called Geoff Shaw to discuss a series of demands which now threatens to cause a constitutional crisis in the state and throw Victorian parliament into turmoil.
“We were parked in the McDonald’s car park at Bakery Hill when the phone call took place, so once again Ballarat has an important role to play in Victoria’s history and Victoria’s democracy,” Dr Napthine said.
The discussion is believed to have followed a series of text messages between the pair where Mr Shaw expressed demands to ensure he avoids further punishment in Parliament over the car rorting controversy and, according to Dr Napthine, that he also make a particular judicial appointment.
Despite, what has been described as an animated discussion with rogue MP Shaw, Dr Napthine said he received no funny looks from Ballarat residents.
“People were going about their business and I was going about my business,” he said.
Dr Napthine has not spoken to Mr Shaw since the conversation which sparked the controversy.
However, he would not rule out the possibility of expulsion or suspension of Mr Shaw from parliament with Opposition Leader Daniel Andrews saying expulsion of the rogue MP is the only option.
Mr Andrews has declared his intention to expel the renegade former Liberla MP as soon as next Tuesday.
“He (Premier Denis Napthine) has been propped up by Geoff Shaw”, Mr Andrews said this week.
“Denis Napthine has allowed Geoff Shaw to run his government. I will not allow Geoff Shaw to run our state.”
But Dr Napthine has insisted a thorough legal investigation of the issue must be done first.
“What we are seeing is a lot of speculation but what we need is sound advice and proper consideration before we blunder ahead,” he said.
“We don’t want people who make mistakes with the constitution and misunderstand the Governor’s role and now want to play politics with a very serious issue facing the Victorian parliament and facing our democracy.”
Despite being pressed for a time frame on when the issue might be resolved, Dr Napthine said it was important the right advice was obtained before any step was taken.
“As we know from the history of Eureka, democracy is a very precious thing. It shouldn’t be abused for political purposes. It shouldn’t be used inappropriately,” he said.
“So parliament really does need to get the proper advice about how to deal with somebody who has done the wrong thing, deal with them appropriately and make sure the punishment sticks.”