Facebook Google Menu Linkedin lock Pinterest Search Twitter

Advertisement

Victorian Politics

Mar 6, 2013

Exit Ted Baillieu

In the culmination of a fast-moving crisis that appeared on the radar less than 48 hours ago, Ted Baillieu has stepped down as Victorian Premier.

User login status :

Share

In the culmination of a fast-moving crisis that appeared on the radar less than 48 hours ago, Ted Baillieu has stepped down as Victorian Premier. More on that to follow, but for the time being here’s a thread to discuss it.

UPDATE (30 SECONDS LATER): Denis Napthine?!

UPDATE 2: Lacking any substantial understanding of my own concerning Victorian Liberal factional politics, I await further explanation as to why Denis Napthine in particular was left holding the parcel when the music stopped. As Lefty E relates in comments, Barrie Cassidy has apparently told Lateline that Baillieu threatened he “wouldn’t go quietly” if it was anyone but Napthine. Leadership talk had been primarily focused on Planning Minister Matthew Guy, but this was presumably predicated on some scheme to move him to the lower house, which events have moved far too quickly to accommodate (on which note, PB’s resident legal authority Graeme Orr argues in comments that while it’s purely a convention that leaders come from the lower house, it’s sufficiently entrenched a convention that a Governor faced with swearing in a leader from the upper house would likely be advised not to proceed).

Also yet to be explained are the substantial reasons why Baillieu felt resignation the best course of action available to him, and what exactly Geoff Shaw had to with it. For the time being, we are left to suspect that it may have involved Shaw flexing the muscle he has fortuitously acquired as a result of the delicate parliamentary balance. John Ferguson of The Australian offers the following exhaustive list of Shaw’s accomplishments in public life:

Police late last year launched a criminal investigation into Mr Shaw after he was allegedly found to have rorted his taxpayer entitlements over the use of his parliamentary car. In other controversies, Mr Shaw made lewd gestures at the opposition during a question time; likened legalising homosexuality to legalising child molestation, speed driving and murder; was involved in a roadside punch-up with a young motorist in 2011; was fined and put on a good behaviour bond after being charged over a 1992 assault at a Frankston nightclub; and allegedly called Labor MP James Merlino a “midget” in question time.

Having been supported through all this by the leadership of the government, Shaw announced today he could “no longer support the leadership of the government”, taking it upon himself to diagnose a “general loss of confidence Victorians are feeling”.

The situation raises thorny questions about the circumstances in which one should advocate an early election. Although I criticised Tony Windsor and Rob Oakeshott for overlooking the wishes of their constituents when they cut their deal with the Prime Minister, I have been of the view that their transparent arrangement provided a workable basis for the government to go about its business and answer to its constituents in due course. It seems quite a different matter for a government to be at the fickle mercy of a single opportunist with all manner of question marks surrounding his probity.

That’s not to say an election is realistically in prospect, at least for now. Presumably Shaw will need to stand by the government if he wants to see out his term, and a government that badly needs to right its ship will be entirely content to tolerate the arrangement.

William Bowe — Editor of The Poll Bludger

William Bowe

Editor of The Poll Bludger

William Bowe is a Perth-based election analyst and occasional teacher of political science. His blog, The Poll Bludger, is one of the most heavily trafficked forums for online discussion of Australian politics, and joined the Crikey stable in 2008.

Get a free trial to post comments
More from William Bowe

Advertisement

We recommend

From around the web

Powered by Taboola

272 comments

272 thoughts on “Exit Ted Baillieu

  1. Rossmore

    Night all, epic day for Victorian PBers

  2. deblonay

    MB 162_______
    I don’t understand this comment of yours
    Bracks won his second victory in 2002
    The major f then was the extent of the massive swing in Melb…where at the previous election he had won power with a big swing in the rural/regional towns and cities and a small swing inb Melb .

    In 2002 the swing in Melbourne wiped the Liberals out in many areas of Melb
    Bracks went on to win again in 2006
    see below

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steve_Bracks

  3. lefty e

    Woah – Barry Cassidy on Lateline saying Baillieu had Napthine installed with the threat he ‘wouldnt go quietly’ if it was anyone else.

  4. William Bowe

    [My tip – no early Victorian election no matter what. Next scheduled one is Nov 2014, and it has to be held even if there is a mid term election in between due to no confidence!]

    I don’t think that’s right. Antony Green:

    [The election is not for the balance of the term but for a new fixed term with new start date set out in Section 38 of the Constitution Act.]

    To wit:

    [(2) If the previous Assembly is dissolved, the subsequent Assembly shall expire on the Tuesday which is 25 days before the last Saturday in November which is nearest to the last anniversary of the election day on which it was elected that occurs not more than 4 years after it was elected.]

  5. slackboy72

    Hilarious.
    Too bad the majority of the country doesn’t care about what happens south of the Murray.

  6. Graeme

    Napthine isn’t a Jewish name is it? But your mum may be a political polymath like you William. There is a Wikipedia entry for Joseph Potaski, the first Polish Jew said to emigrate here, which lists Dennis N as one of his descendants…. Doesn’t mean he’s an adherent or even culturally Jewish.

    But if he were he’d be the most senior Lib ever from that faith background no? Along with P Baume I guess. Brogden never made it. Greiner’s parents were Jewish but like a lot of émigrés adopted Christianity at least notionally to assimilate.

  7. mexicanbeemer

    Deblonay

    My comment was referring to comment that Naphine was unpopular in 2002 which he was but in my view it would not have mattered who the Liberals had lead them in 2002 for Bracks was a long way in front in particular in Melbourne which mostly stayed with Jeff in 1999

  8. William Bowe

    [Napthine isn’t a Jewish name is it?]

    Not that I was aware of, but my mother sounded pretty confident.

  9. sustainable future

    That’s odd.

    MSM has no mention of ‘faceless men’ in all of this. I suspect this is a Coup gone wrong – Napthine is not the man the Right faction conspirators against Baillieu would have hoped for. Or is he simply the fall guy to be seen as having blood on his hands for Davis or some similar ‘hard’ right man steps up. The Oz have been gunning for Baillieu for a long time – not right-win enough for Mitchell and Murdoch?

  10. alias

    And he has got a very big nose.

  11. sustainable future

    william – does alias get a red card for that? I have a big nose (I’m of scots/irish/pom/german/spanish descent) and I’m offended. Is ‘alias’ the alias of scott morrison?

  12. confessions

    Well this is a shock. This scandal seemed to come from nowhere and in the end was all-engulfing.

  13. alias

    Sorry I apologise. I was idly quoting a line out of ‘The Life of Brian’. In fact, Denis Napthine doesn’t have a very big nose at all .. though merely saying that probably makes my offence worse.

  14. Lord Barry Bonkton

    <a href="deflationite@27


    Liberal MPs emerging in tears from Teds office.

    “>deflationite@27


    Liberal MPs emerging in tears from Teds office.

    deflationite@27


    Liberal MPs emerging in tears from Teds office.

    Crying about lost income from scams .

  15. alias

    For anyone unfamiliar with the classic big nose scene:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dE98F3IcvJA

  16. Ophuph Hucksake

    To all those Victorians who tossed out a relatively competent ALP government 2.5 years ago, just because they felt like a change … I hope the events of today concentrate your minds come September.

  17. alias

    I like the phrase “relatively competent”. I feel angry every time I use my Myki card on the public transport system. It was one of the worst examples of public waste in Victorian history. It is the single biggest reason Brumby lost office.

  18. ockerguy

    Napthine has an Aunt who is a Catholic Nun.

  19. confessions

    The new Liberal leader looks like a carbon copy of the former leader only with less personality, if that’s even possible.

  20. alias

    And his middle name is Vincent.

  21. sustainable future

    alias – sorry about the scott morrison reference.

  22. confessions

    [To all those Victorians who tossed out a relatively competent ALP government 2.5 years ago, just because they felt like a change … I hope the events of today concentrate your minds come September.]

    I don’t live in Victoria so can’t comment on the competence of the previous govt, but I don’t recall the past govt, even when it was a minority govt suffering the kinds of poor policy decisions, alleged corruption scandals, and general woefulness of the current Liberal govt.

  23. ockerguy

    And he is the third in a family of 10 children

  24. alias

    No worries Sustainable Future.

  25. Tom the first and best

    189

    It was rather a mess. They probably should have gone for an off the shelf smart card system instead of going bespoke.

    It was 1 of Peter Batchelor`s many policy failings. The general underspend on Melbourne PT when he was minister was another as was any of the problems with the smart meter roll out. It was Peter Batchelor who lost the ALP the 2010 election.

  26. swamprat

    The wonders of the internet:

    Napthine (old Anglo-Saxon):

    http://www.surnamedb.com/Surname/Napthine

  27. absolutetwaddle

    alias

    “I like the phrase “relatively competent”. I feel angry every time I use my Myki card on the public transport system. It was one of the worst examples of public waste in Victorian history. It is the single biggest reason Brumby lost office.”

    It has always worked just fine for me. I never saw what the big deal was. The only thing that irritates me about is is the inability at this point to top up on trams if you run out of credit. But even that is an oversight on my part.

    But on occasion I do see people – mostly older folk – get frustrated when they quickly wave their card in the general direction of the reader and not have it touch on. I also see, incredibly, people persisting in touching off on trams in zone 1 which is just ridiculous. How many times do people need to be told they don’t have to do that?!

    Yep, it had a teething period. But people are generally over it. I don’t sense a great community longing for Metcards to return and I think most people recognize smart cards are the way to go. If anything Myki is severely UNDER-utilized. You ought to be able to use it in taxis, in convenience stores and at vending machines at the very least.

    And for the love of Dawkins let me put a dollar or two on my card on the tram if I’m caught short.

  28. absolutetwaddle

    But yeah it cost a lot of money. All the more reason to make it as versatile and ubiquitous as possible.

    I hate to be one of “those” guys but seeing the utilization of the Octopus Card in Hong Kong is a model example. Entirely different context of course but they figured it out.

  29. deblonay

    Napthine is a catholic( as is his aunt…the num)
    I knew some relatives of his once and they all were catholic

  30. William Bowe

    John Ferguson in The Oz:

    [Those close to Mr Shaw also believe that he will return to the party, but on the condition of tightening Victoria’s abortion laws. This was something Mr Baillieu would not tolerate, they said.]

  31. absolutetwaddle

    I would LOVE to see them try.

  32. Bugler

    William,

    That is possibly the most disturbing part of this.

  33. Rossmore

    William Bugler Geoff Shaw is your classic tea party type …. From Wikipedia

    Shaw is an active member of the Pentecostal church Peninsula City. In his maiden speech to the Victorian parliament, he acknowledged “the original owner of the land on which we stand—God, the Creator, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of the Bible.”[11] This phrasing is similar to that typically used in the practice of recognizing traditional Australian Aboriginal owners of land during events.[12]

    If the price of his support is tougher abortion laws I cant see the Gov lasting long. Just cant see sections of the Libs agreeing with such nonsence. And I suspect it presages a landslide ALP win at the next election, whenever that may be

  34. triton

    I think Vic teachers will be delighted by this turn of events. With a charisma rating of zero, Napthine can have nothing going for him other than to get things done. The last thing he would want is for the dispute with teachers to continue to drag on. The teachers know this. They also have the coalition’s promise before the last election to make them the best-paid teachers in the country. Napthine will be desperate to settle, so the teachers hold all the aces.

  35. mari

    Testing is the Blog open for business?

  36. victoria

    mari

    This is the Baillieu thread. The essential thread is the main one. If you are interested. We also have this blog

    http://pbxmastragics.com/2013/03/03/among-the-true-believers/comment-page-12/#comment-24951

  37. Toorak Toff

    Can Victoria survive without the Toorak toff?

  38. Yesiree Bob

    If Geoff Shaw returns to the party fold, then we’ll know that the Fibs are completely morally and ethically bankrupt.
    I don’t think that the people of Victoria will ever reward the creature that knifed, what most considered, as a decent bloke, regardless of his politics

  39. WeWantPaul

    [If Geoff Shaw returns to the party fold, then we’ll know that the Fibs are completely morally and ethically bankrupt.]

    In fairness anyone who hadn’t worked it out before Abbott was made federal leader didn’t take long after that

  40. Martin B

    Napthine will be desperate to settle, so the teachers hold all the aces.

    OTOH Napthine could claim that he didn’t make the promise so he’s not bound by it.

    But you’re right, the dynamics would seem to suggest ‘settle’.

  41. triton

    Martin B, he could try to disown it, but that would go down very, very badly. He would not want to start his premiership with a giant cop-out. Also, all coalition MPs, not just Baillieu, were voted in on the basis of their policies at the last election, so it would be a pretty poor excuse apart from anything else.

  42. kakuru

    [ I don’t think that the people of Victoria will ever reward the creature that knifed, what most considered, as a decent bloke, regardless of his politics]

    I had a lot of time for Ted. He was a moderate – a dying breed in a party that is lurching to the right. And I say that as a card-carrying ALP member.

    The ALP doesn’t have a monopoly on infighting, horse-trading, and factional wars. Now that Coalition/LNP governments are everywhere, we’ll see a lot more knifings in the future.

  43. Lynchpin

    William Bowe

    [So can anyone tell me why Napthine in particular?]

    Answer: Naphthalene is an organic compound with formula C10H8. It is the simplest polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon, and is a white crystalline solid with a characteristic odor that is detectable at concentrations as low as 0.08 ppm by mass.[1] As an aromatic hydrocarbon, naphthalene’s structure consists of a fused pair of benzene rings. It is best known as the main ingredient of traditional mothballs.

  44. Martin B

    Martin B, he could try to disown it, but that would go down very, very badly.

    No, I think you’re right. I’m kind of speculating (for some reason) that that might be a line used as an ambit claim in negotiations before compromising very quickly…

  45. Socrates

    A brief comment on this extraordinary mess. The Victorian situation is actually worse than Federal Labor’s with Thompson. Vic Libs have a one seat majority, not two, and Shaw’s investigation relates to things he did while in government, with government property, not prior to election, with union property.

    I’m not defending either situation, but it would be breathtaking hypocrisy for a single Victorian Liberal to now say anything about the Gillard government’s hold on power. Likewise if Tony Abbott says anything, the obvious follow up question should be what he thinks of Vic Libs accepting Shaw’s vote.

  46. triton

    Socrates, it would be worth asking but I’m sure Tony would wriggle out of it, mostly on the basis of the amount of money involved, where it came from (those poorly paid HSU members), that there have been findings against him made by FWA, and he would be sure to include gratuitous references to brothels etc. Thomson is so soiled in the public eye that for perceptions of bad behaviour Thomson v. Shaw is a no-contest. Abbott would easily bat the question away and for good measure give Gillard another couple of sharp jabs for defending Thomson.

  47. triton

    I think I just heard “like a cockroach” in the Vic QT. I don’t think the Reps would accept that.

  48. lefty e

    Agree, this doesnt play at all well for the LNP.

    Check Phoney’s hapless attempt to distinguish the two situations. Risible!

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-03-07/abbott-says-world-of-difference-between-rudd-and-baillieu/4558286

  49. Bugler

    I wonder if Andrew Elder of Politically Homeless is going to do a thing on the “factions” in the Victorian Liberal Party, in light of what has happened.

    My knowledge of internal Liberal politicking is very poor, but the impression I get is that this was two friends and allies getting their other friends and allies to approve a switcharoo to keep a more serious and destabilising challenge at bay.

  50. deblonay

    More news from Marvellous Melb….
    __________________

    An hour ago a Lib Backbencher Tilley(who was dumped earlier in the scandal over the police..from his job as a Parlimentary Sec…has been calling for Shaw the MLA for Frankston to be re-admitted to the Liberal Party(despite the police investigation into his misuse of his car et al (theft of petrol ?)
    Tilly is an-ex-cop too
    Shaw is said to want a change in the abortion laws and may be pressuring Napthine…and many Libs see this is dynamite

    Shaw is a tea- party type and a pentecostal christian
    ..a mate for Bernardi ??
    An argument about abortion in Melbourne…a city with a long raidical/small “l” Liberal tradition would be fatal for the Libs
    What interesting times in Mervellous Melb !

  51. lefty e

    “An orderly transition” says Abbott.

    Oh certainly! And so well-accounted for by the protagonists. As I understand it, its about the thing, you know…with the guy, in the place. And the government of Victoria.

    And lets not forget the no mystery whatsoever about why he would be replaced by a rising star like Napthine.

  52. J-D

    Graeme, your ‘trust’ that the Governor would receive advice not to appoint a member of the upper house as Premier is misplaced. (Incidentally I wonder who it is that you are imagining would give the Governor such advice.)

    The parliamentary Liberal Party (or, for that matter, the parliamentary Labor Party) would not choose a member of the upper house as leader except in the special case where there was an expectation of that member promptly transferring to a lower house seat.

    But if a government party with a majority in the lower house did choose a member of the upper house as leader, it is a safe bet that no Governor would refuse to appoint that person as Premier. The most that might happen is that the Governor might ask about a transfer to the lower house.

    Barrie Unsworth, having been elected leader by the parliamentary Labor Party, was appointed Premier (by the Governor) in July 1986 while still a member of the upper house. He remained Premier when he resigned from the upper house to contest the August 1986 by-election for a casual vacancy in the lower house, which he won (narrowly). Obviously nobody was silly enough to advise the Governor not to appoint a member of the upper house as Premier or, if some fool did, the Governor wisely and properly disregarded that advice.

  53. ltep

    There’s also the example of John Gorton, being a member of the Senate, appointed Prime Minister whilst still a senator.

    Prior to the 1900s some UK Prime Ministers were also from the House of Lords, prior to the development of the convention that they be form the Commons.

  54. Greensborough Growler

    Interesting interview with Jams Campbell (who is the journo that broke the Weston tapes story) Killer quote:

    “This is a Government that has been essentially destroyed by a team of first term backbenchers who have very limited political experience.

    Imagine Casey Council comes to Spring Street, this is what a lot of these people are. They’ve brought down a premier I don’t believe with any sort of serious plan as to what, who they were, what they were going to do next”.

    http://www.abc.net.au/worldtoday/content/2013/s3710108.htm

  55. J-D

    The Internet Surname Database says that ‘Napthine’ comes from an Old English place name, Knapton. Other surname spellings include ‘Nappin’, ‘Naptine’, ‘Naptin’, and ‘Napton’. There are two Knaptons, one in Norfolk and one in East Yorkshire. The place name comes from ‘Cnapa’ and ‘tun’, ‘Cnapa’ being an Old English personal name which originally meant ‘boy’ and ‘tun’ meaning a settlement or enclosure.

    Researching this is the first time I have come across the Internet Surname Database. I have no idea how reliable it is. It offers three different origins for ‘Bowe’, but my own surname, it says, has not yet been researched (hardly surprising, given its rarity).

  56. J-D

    According to the Australian Dictionary of Biography, Vaiben Louis Solomon was the only Jew to have been a colonial or State Premier. He was Premier of South Australia from 1 December 1899 to 8 December 1899.

  57. Leroy

    http://www.frankstonweekly.com.au/story/1348485/geoff-shaw-talks-to-the-weekly-my-options-are-open/?cs=1197
    [Geoff Shaw talks to the Weekly: ‘My options are open’
    By ALECIA PINNER March 7, 2013, 3:29 p.m.

    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.]

  58. Rossmore

    Oh its the voters fault, is it Piers?

    @PiersComments: Don’t blame it on Ted Baillieu, blame it on the constant stupidity of the average Victorian Voters.

  59. Tom the first and best

    230

    Does he think that Brumby should have won the election?

  60. zoidlord

    @Leroy/229

    Isn’t that what Media been trying to blame Gillard?

    WTF is the world coming to!

  61. Martin B

    There’s also the example of John Gorton, being a member of the Senate, appointed Prime Minister whilst still a senator.

    Yes, although because of S64, there was a clear constitutional timeframe for him to comply with the conventional requirement that he sit in the lower house.

    Which makes me think otherwise to the advice above:

    PB’s resident legal authority Graeme Orr argues in comments that while it’s purely a convention that leaders come from the lower house, it’s sufficiently entrenched a convention that a Governor faced with swearing in a leader from the upper house would likely be advised not to proceed

    I would, as an itinerant non-authority, argue that, although not binding, the federal constitution should be guiding and that where state constitutions are silent on the matter they should be read as no more restrictive than the federal one. Thus a governor should swear in a Premier in the upper house who undertakes to find a seat in the lower house, but should be able to withdraw that commission if within three months that does not take place.

  62. Tom the first and best

    233

    Gorton could have remained in the Senate and still been PM as there is no legal restriction on that. It was however relatively easy for him to move because Hold had died, his seat was automatically vacant. Ted is staying in Parliament and so not creating a vacancy.

  63. Martin B

    According to the Australian Dictionary of Biography, Vaiben Louis Solomon was the only Jew to have been a colonial or State Premier.

    His nickname, ‘Black Solomon’, derived from the occasion when—for a dare—he blackened himself to resemble an Aborigine and walked naked through the town.

    And he still became Premier? Clearly this was pre-Facebook.

  64. Martin B

    Gorton could have remained in the Senate and still been PM as there is no legal restriction on that

    As is the subject of this conversation, the existence of unwritten conventions can still guide the actual practice of politics.

    Of course if Kerr had been GG at the time, sure. 🙂

  65. Martin B

    I can’t believe that Christine Fyffe or Brad Battin couldn’t have been arm-twisted if it truly was the will of the party to elevate Guy. (And that this didn’t happen makes me discount the ‘this was all done for Tonez commentary that seems to have spread through PB.) The problem is that with parliamentary numbers, they would have to do the whole thing through a recess. Very messy.

  66. Martin B

    Incidentally I wonder who it is that you are imagining would give the Governor such advice.

    I read that comment in the sense of ‘it would be advisable that they not do this’ rather than that there would be formal advice from a specific person.

  67. Graeme

    It’s all beautifully moot, but:
    1. Premier tenders resignation – he’s in no position to advise Governor – so Governor is obliged to consult the precedents built up in his office and further legal advice.
    2. If Guy had had a clear or even credible pathway to lower house, of course a Governor should install him. But on that proviso. Gorton just reinforces the precedent. Section 64 of the Cth constitution isn’t strictly relevant or needed. Consider Newman – commissioned as Premier before sworn as MLA. What mattered was that he had a pathway to lower house.

    Car’n the Rabbitohs!

  68. Graeme

    (J-D@ 4:35pm. Precisely – my comment was made knowing that Guy had no-one resigning to offer him a safe or even winnable seat. I was merely responding to speculation that nonetheless an MLC could still be an ongoing chief minister. Though elected an MLC can’t have his confidence tested on the floor of the lower house.

    Conversely, I’ve argued elsewhere there’s no reason, other than sanity, why Barnaby can’t lead the Nats and be DPM and hence acting PM whilst PM Abbott is o/s, at Lords etc. DPM isn’t a traditional office; and in terms of day to day accountability is much less important than Treasurer, where Australia hasn’t built up a must-sit-in-lower-house precedent).

  69. outside left

    Rossmore, and what would be the average stupidity on PB? modlib or rummel?

  70. Rossmore

    Outsleft, PB is a broad, generally tolerant church. Mod Lib and Rummel are pretty good posters, generally. I’m occasionally stupid myself.

  71. Bugler

    Reposting here, if that’s okay.

    http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/super-sweetener-for-shaw-20130307-2fomj.html

    [Frankston MP Geoff Shaw is likely to be offered a sweeping overhaul boosting the parliamentary superannuation scheme for recently elected MPs as part of a package of sweeteners to induce him back to the parliamentary Liberal Party.

    Securing Mr Shaw’s vote for the government is being viewed by nervous Coalition MPs as Denis Napthine’s most pressing task as Victoria’s new premier.]

  72. Tom the first and best

    243

    Latham got Ted!

  73. absolutetwaddle

    The Age reckons Napthine has shot down the ridiculous Alabama-style abortion politicking… so instead will bribe Shaw back into the Liberal Party as a concession. Probably successfully.

    God help Napthine if the cops charge Shaw AFTER being accepted back into the fold. Would be a pleasure to watch the reaction of course.

    What a thoroughly disgusting human being Shaw is, by the way. He’s an embarrassment even to FRANKSTON. He ought to take his Jesus Camp circus to Western Sydney where it belongs.

  74. deblonay

    Post 245…Absolute…
    Yes
    re Shaw what a creep
    ________
    Tonight he was struting around on the media like the victor…which perhaps he is !

    He is close it’s said to Bernie Finn a fanatical Right-to-Lifer in the Upper House and several others of the “Tea Party”..type…including the Dragon Mother Inge Pulich whose recent disaster on Casey Counci…when she tried to get the Libs to make her son Mayor… was reported in the Age et al ….and a sign of growing strife

    …and with several others of the far Right they now form a kind of fndamentalist faction
    all very dangerous for Napthine…with the potential for instant conflagation as they throw up more radical-right issues

  75. sustainable future

    I, for one, give 100% support to Shaw’s attempt to tighten abortion laws. Only because Tony Abbott would be t-o-a-s-t if the Vic Libs did this. I hope Shaw proposes and wins similarly nutty concessions from the VicLibs over the next few months. I hope he pushes for compulsory prayer in schools, the end of no-fault divorce, end of state funding for birth control programs and IVF, and other stuff Abbott and his DLP loons have given the nod to in the past.

    Is it just me, or is it getting a bit Arkansas around here (Australia) lately. The Howard-Murdoch era seems to have spawned a bevy of dumb, far right, middled age angry white men red-necks in the fiberals. Labor needs to draw them out and get their views be expressed and derided (rather than trying to win their votes, lambaste them and try to win any remaining moderate libs), and link abbott to these views.

  76. Tom the first and best

    247

    Medicare and Divorce are Commonwealth matters.

  77. sustainable future

    I know Tom @248, but I’d love to see Shaw push for this sort of stuff (& there is state money into hospitals he could try to get away from IVF and abortion services), so that labor and the greens can remind the public that abbott has supported such changes in the past. Labor needs to stop pandering the alan jones listeners and go after moderates by painting abbott’s liberals as extremist religious tools. shouldn’t to too hard..

  78. Independently Thinking

    JD @ 228

    At this rate, Mr Solomon’s one week may outdo Mr Napthine.

  79. J-D

    “I read that comment in the sense of ‘it would be advisable that they not do this’ rather than that there would be formal advice from a specific person.”

    But “it would be advisable that the Governor not do this” doesn’t mean the Governor couldn’t or wouldn’t, it only means that Graeme personally thinks the Governor shouldn’t, which would be irrelevant to a discussion of the legal position.

    “As is the subject of this conversation, the existence of unwritten conventions can still guide the actual practice of politics.”

    True, and so it would be correct to say that a member of the upper house would not be chosen to be Premier except in the case where that member was going to transfer to the lower house. But if you make it more specific and ask ‘WHO is going to avoid choosing a member of the upper house to be Premier?’, the answer ‘the relevant parliamentary party’ is RIGHT and the answer ‘the Governor’ is WRONG.

    “It’s all beautifully moot”
    Granted.

    “Premier tenders resignation – he’s in no position to advise Governor – so Governor is obliged to consult the precedents built up in his office and further legal advice.”

    Sorry, but that’s wrong again. Firstly, it’s absolutely standard for a head of government who is tendering a resignation to offer advice about the appointment of a successor. For example, in this case Baillieu could have (and for all I know he actually did this) written to the Governor saying “I tender my resignation from the office of Premier and I advise you to commission as Premier, to succeed me, the newly elected leader of the parliamentary Liberal Party, Denis Napthine”. Secondly, if the outgoing head of government can’t offer advice or chooses not to, and if the Governor then seeks legal advice, no lawyer can offer legal advice on the subject except to the extent that it’s based either on a written law or on a court decision, and in this case there’s no written law and no court decision that says a member of the upper house can’t be appointed as Premier. Section 51 of the Victorian Constitution says “A responsible Minister of the Crown shall not hold office for a longer period than three months unless he is or becomes a member of the Council or the Assembly” and that’s as far as LEGAL advice could go.

  80. centaur009

    That was Kingston council where Inga the stinker tried to interfere to get her inept son elected as mayor

  81. Socrates

    While I can understand the Libs wanting Shaws vote in the short term, surely he is now electoral poison and will be gone in the next election? Any leader making a deal with him will be severely compromised.

  82. Rossmore

    Mitchell on 3AW this morning was apoplectic about Shaw’s MP super demands. I hope the ALP are smart enough not to go along with any changes to Victorian MPs super arrangements.

  83. Bugler

    [At 1pm, Mr Baillieu went to a joint Coalition party room meeting. He updated MPs about Geoff Shaw and gave a rousing speech, a call for unity. ”It was one of the best speeches I ever heard him make,” said one senior minister.

    But as he looked around the room, Mr Baillieu would be able to have seen his plea was falling flat. It wasn’t so much what the MPs said, it was their body language. For a self-conscious premier with a love of performing arts, it was probably clear to Mr Baillieu that he had lost his audience. ”That meeting was a turning point,” says another senior supporter. ”He would have come to his own conclusion that there was evaporating support.”…

    …Fairfax Media understands Mr Baillieu decided that instead of testing his leadership at a damaging ballot – which could have dragged on for days at a time when Geoff Shaw’s defection had left the government precariously positioned – he would step down. According to sources he formed a view that Denis Napthine would be a consensus alternative. This followed discussions within the party throughout the afternoon in which it emerged Napthine could be the person that the party’s disparate groupings could support. Mr Baillieu consulted the National Party and the decision was made: he would resign…

    …Regardless of the talk around Parliament on Wednesday afternoon, the 7pm party meeting, and Mr Baillieu’s decision, came as a shock. A backbencher loyal to Mr Baillieu said most MPs had no idea the premier was set to resign when the Liberals entered the party meeting on Wednesday evening. ”No one knew, not even senior people.”…

    … Many backbenchers, such as Christine Fyffe, had also been unhappy about superannuation. There were also factional power plays going on, Jeff Kennett’s tough assessment of the government and the constant speculation about the ambitions of Matthew Guy. This was all in the mix and on Wednesday afternoon things began to coalesce. And by 10.40pm Victoria had a new premier.

    Read more: http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/bombshell-that-ended-teds-rule-20130307-2fomi.html#ixzz2MuM2vyes%5D

    A very good article. It’s things like this that made the Age such a good paper.

  84. Bugler

    Another good article, for those interested in the internal machinations that lay behind it.

    http://www.theage.com.au/comment/a-party-long-divided-over-leadership-20130307-2fnu1.html

    [All of this begs the question about what is going on in the Victorian Liberal Party. The Liberals reject any claim that their operational culture includes factionalism, but events clearly indicate that the party is divided at least on the fundamental question of its parliamentary leader. If division exists over the question of leadership, other considerations will also come in to play. Baillieu and Napthine are clearly identifiable as part of a group within the Liberal Party who have been around for a long time (suggesting that the question of generational tensions might arise), are thought of as “moderates” especially with regard to social and industrial relations policy and were identifiable as part of the Kennett legacy.

    We also know that there was a division between Kennett and sections of the party organisation when Michael Kroger was its president, and that these divisions have tended to reverberate on even though both of these gentlemen have moved on from the confines of state politics.

    What we might hypothesise is that there is a group within the party – both in the parliamentary wing and in the broader organisation – who have such antipathy towards the idea of an old guard moderate leadership that it is prepared to risk voter support in a bid to have someone younger, more socially conservative and much harder line on industrial relations as leader.

    The antipathy is so great they are prepared to risk being seen to be like the federal Labor Party and its problem with leadership politics. This would suggest that the divisions are very deep and potentially very destructive. It is also a fair bet that the transition of the Liberal leadership from Baillieu to Napthine won’t quell the potential for a future rebellion.

    Nick Economou is a senior lecturer in politics at Monash University.]

  85. zoomster

    Tony Nutt resigns.

    Seriously, now? Why not two days ago, and save the embarrassment of losing a Premier?

  86. Bugler

    Zoomster,

    Self-absorbtion and the belief he could walk on water. He and Shaw could well be brothers from another mother.

  87. Graeme

    J-D. I apologise for being elliptical. By ‘in no position to advise’ I meant advise in the sense of definitively/binding advice, ie assert ‘my position is Premier, you do what I say’. From now on I won’t risk bloviating on legal questions on the run on an iphone…

    Sure, if Rudd goes to the GG and says ‘Gillard is now parliamentary leader, you should commission her’, no GG will think twice about that advice.

    But if the advice is constitutionally suspect (including for conventional reasons) the GG/Governor is not simply a rubber stamp. If not, an outgoing leader can just say ‘I advise you to call an election’. Recall the Bjelke-Petersen stand off: Governor Campbell was criticised for not immediately installing Ahern; Campbell took advice, which was to let Joh fall on the floor of the house first; and if still Premier Joh had demanded a new election of course Campbell should have ignored that.

    My point was simply if the Libs elected Guy and Bailieu had turned up saying ‘make Guy Premier’, the Governor would not be bound to immediately follow that as he was when Bailieu turned up saying ‘make Napthine Premier’. We can argue about my opinion as to whether that convention is strong; but the process of considering precedent and if necessary seeking other advice is orthodox and desirable.

  88. Work To Rule

    Has the moniker Dennis “Nap-Time” being coined yet?

  89. zoomster

    Work to Rule

    you betcha, baby. I created the #naptime hashtag on twitter!

  90. deblonay

    The Tea Party comes top Spring Street
    Casey Council come to Town
    __________________________________
    Small”l” liberals in Melb face t

    The Rogue MP for Frankston Shaw is a pentecostal christian and like some US christian nuttters he is against abortion/homosexuality/evolution ..in his posts to his local voters
    It’s said he wants the new premier to “tighten up” on Abortions.. and .one looks forward to his attack on our Gay friends…what a political battle that will be for the Libs
    One of the maddest is Bernie Finn MLC the hardest of hard line anti-abortionists……
    He is not alone in the party and he’s an old friend of Margaret Tighe the Grand Dame of the movement

    There is also Inge Pulich..the Dragon Mother..whose son is on the rather crazy Casey Council on the S E side of Melb. Her efforts .were recently exposed in The Age after a failed effort to get her son…very much Munny’s darling ……elected by his Lib colleagues to the Mayoralty.. by threatening their politicial careers(throat cutting gestures from the public gallery to Lib council members seated below which aroused some anger.)..in the end sonny-boy got one vote for the job…his own I suppose…all this now bubbles along like so much lava under the feet of the new leader…not to mention Mr Tilley MLA ..a former cop and a plotter against Overland,the former police chief…Overlabd now in the safety of Hobart… who must be laughing fit to burst
    …and there is more to come…. Neil Mitchell on 3AW at 8.30…re his demands for a new richer bigger super scheme for MLAs

    Grand days in Marvellous Melbourne

  91. Tom the first and best

    262

    I am sure any change to the super would cover MLC`s too.

  92. J-D

    The correct answer to the question ‘what would happen if the Governor were advised to allow the government to be led by a Premier from the upper house?’ is the same as the correct answer to the question ‘what would happen if the Governor were advised to appoint his horse as consul?’. In both cases, the correct answer is ‘the Governor wouldn’t be advised to do that’. Since the correct answer is that the advice wouldn’t be given, the answer that the Governor would refuse to take the advice must be incorrect.

    There is (in the current state of the law) nothing illegal about a government being led from the upper house. However, although it’s legally possible it’s politically impossible in present political conditions. The barrier to it is a political one, not a legal one, and the decision not to do it is based on political considerations, not legal ones. Because it’s a political impossibility for a government to be led from the upper house, no governing party would choose a leader who was a member of the upper house except in the special case where that leader is expected to make a prompt transition to the lower house (as, most recently, in the case of Barrie Unsworth). It’s not consideration of the potential attitude of the Governor that would rule out such a decision; the potential attitude of the Governor is irrelevant.

    There’s only one way it would be possible for advice to come to the Governor to appoint a Premier from the upper house with the expectation that Premier would continue to lead the government from the upper house and not transfer to the lower house. That would be if political conditions changed so drastically from what they are now as to make that politically possible. I see nothing whatever pointing to any likelihood of conditions moving in that direction, but if in some way I can’t imagine it did come about that political conditions changed to allow it, there’s no reason to expect that the Governor’s decision alone would block it.

  93. Graeme

    J-D. We are in furious agreement, except that you are drawing a black line between ‘law’ and ‘conventions’ that really belongs to the distinction between enforceable constitutional law and mere practice.

    Precisely because reserve powers aren’t challengeable in court, conventions (accreted, rationalised/normative precedent) are the governing rules. That’s law.

    As to an outgoing leader’s advice being not binding and hence the Governor needing to exercise his own mind see Prof Anne Twomey at 339-342 of this recent article: http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2009686

  94. Graeme

    J-D. We are in furious agreement, except that you are drawing a black line between ‘law’ and ‘conventions’ that really belongs to the distinction between enforceable constitutional law and mere practice.

    Precisely because reserve powers aren’t challengeable in court, conventions (accreted, rationalised/normative precedent) are the governing rules. That’s law.

    As to an outgoing leader’s advice being not binding and hence the Governor needing to exercise his own mind see Prof Anne Twomey at 339-342 of this recent article: http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2009686

  95. Graeme

    J-D. We are in furious agreement, except that you are drawing a black line between ‘law’ and ‘conventions’ that really belongs to the distinction between enforceable constitutional law and mere practice.

    Precisely because reserve powers aren’t challengeable in court, conventions (accreted, rationalised/normative precedent) are the governing rules. That’s law.

    As to an outgoing leader’s advice being not binding and hence the Governor needing to exercise his own mind see Prof Anne Twomey at 339-342 of this recent article: http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2009686

  96. J-D

    Graeme, you say we’re in agreement, but you also say that I am ‘drawing a black line between “law” and “conventions”‘, when I have written nothing about ‘conventions’.

    If we really are in agreement otherwise, that has to mean that you’re agreeing with my assertion that the Governor’s potential attitude is not one of the relevant factors in this particular case, which on the face of it contradicts what you posted originally.

  97. Martin B

    I think everyone agrees that political parties are not in any forseeable future going to attempt this, and so the primary barrier is political.

    If they did, however, I think you are wrong about this:

    the Governor’s potential attitude is not one of the relevant factors in this particular case

    Commissioning a premier is an exercise of the reserve powers. You seem to be arguing that the governor is effectively a rubber stamp here, and has no discretion in the matter. This is emphatically not the case, and has been demonstrated by precedent. The article Graeme has referenced provides a number of these, where it is clear that the governor is not obliged to accept as definitive informal advice, a party room vote, a letter from MPs, or indeed anything short of a vote on the floor of parliament.

    Far from the Governor’s potential attitude not being relevant, in the exercise of reserve powers, the Governor’s attitude is definitive. Of course the same kind of argument comes in here – an actual governor is not going to decide these matters on a whim. This is where the conventions come in.

  98. Graeme

    I take it J-D was exercised to claim the Governor’s attitude was irrelevant in ‘this particular case’. Perhaps because s/he sees any conventions as purely political, but clear in this particular case (no MLC as ongoing Premier).

    But yes, it sounds like we’re in disagreement – or in my case bemusement – over the epistemic source of this. J-D said the only ‘LEGAL’ advice here could be a reading of the black letter Constitution. I and others say in questions of govt formation the conventions are a source of guiding norms for the decision maker. To not call that ‘legal’ is more than semantics. If J-D is claiming the Governor’s attitude (ie decision informed by reflectionof on convention) is always irrelevant, then how would s/he explain such recent events as (a) Queen rejecting UK PM Brown’s resignation straight after 2010 UK poll, insisting a duty to stay on until new govt was settled; or (b) Gov Underwood batting away Tas Premier’s attempt to pass the hot potato last time. In both cases the caretaker PM/Premier was motivated Politically but the Crown asserted a clashing convention (and prevailed). None of this is to say all asserted conventions are clear or strong. But neither case looks like a rule that there’s only one über rule or convention (follow advice of current commissioned but outgoing PM/Premier) and the rest is nothing but political restraints on that leader’s advice.

    If as J-D claims proposing Guy without a pathway to LA was unthinkable here, it certainly wasn’t because of ‘P’olitics in the sense of numbers or what might be community accepted, but because of institutional ‘p’olitics : what makes a firm convention is the confluence of established practice and constitutional principle – a bit like customary international law.

  99. J-D

    I am not asserting that the attitude or potential attitude of the Governor (or Governor-General or monarch) could never be a relevant factor, and in the interests of greater clarity I specifically disavow that view.

    I did make the narrower assertion that in present circumstances it is not possible for a government to be led by a Premier (or Prime Minister) from the upper house and that the potential attitude of the Governor is not a relevant factor in that.

    Pointing to other cases in different circumstances where the Governor’s attitude has been a relevant factor does not justify an assertion that the Governor’s potential attitude is a relevant factor in this particular case. It isn’t.

    Some decisions can be partly or entirely explained by ‘convention’, in the sense that they are decisions to do the same thing that was done on parallel previous occasions. But by definition any such convention must have been established originally by the earliest decision or decisions of the kind, which by definition can’t themselves have been based on convention, but must have been based on other factors, factors which don’t necessarily cease to exist or to be relevant even when repeated practice has established something which might be called a ‘convention’.

    A number of factors, including the attitude of the monarch (George V), have been mentioned as possibly affecting the decision in 1923 not to appoint a member of the upper house, the first Marquess Curzon of Kedleston, as Prime Minister, but there’s no useful explanation in terms of ‘convention’. One might say that later decisions could have been affected by the ‘convention’ established when Curzon was passed over, but one might equally say that the same factors (or some of them) which influenced the decision in 1923 also influenced later decisions. A more encompassing analysis is more illuminating than talking narrowly in terms of ‘convention’.

    An explanation which says nothing except that there is a convention that governments not be led from the upper house is not as useful as an explanation which says why there is a convention that governments not be led from the upper house–and there must be a reason why, or else the convention would never have become established in the first place. In 1868 the Governor of Victoria was not prevented by any convention from appointing a member of the upper house as Premier. Obviously times have changed since 1868, but saying that there’s a different convention now is only another way of saying that times have changed, it doesn’t do anything to help explain how times have changed.

  100. Rossmore

    That mendacious word again. Don’t ya love Combet.