Recent events – Victoria 2014

The 2010 election unexpectedly saw the Liberal and National parties return to power after eleven years.

The four years since that last election have been turbulent, with a slim Coalition majority undermined by a rogue MP, and the fall of one Premier.

The 2010 election saw the Liberal Party gain twelve seats off the ALP, and the Nationals gain the seat of Gippsland East off Craig Ingram, the sole remaining independent in the Legislative Assembly. This produced a result of 45 Coalition (35 Liberal, 10 Nationals) and 43 Labor.

Outgoing Premier John Brumby resigned as Labor leader shortly after losing the 2010 election, resigning his seat of Broadmeadows.

Daniel Andrews was elected as Labor leader in December 2010, a few days after the election.

The ALP won the Broadmeadows by-election in early 2011, with no opposition from the Liberal Party.

Liberal MP Geoff Shaw quickly stood out as a problematic MP. In 2011, he was accused of being involved in a roadside fight in his electorate.

In 2012, Shaw was accused of using his parliamentary vehicle as part of his small business, which would have been a misuse of entitlements.

In 2012, two other former Labor ministers resigned their seats and triggered by-elections. Rob Hulls, who had served as deputy to John Brumby and Daniel Andrews, resigned from Niddrie in January 2012. Bronwyn Pike resigned from her seat of Melbourne in May 2012.

The ALP easily retained Niddrie, but Melbourne was a much closer race. Melbourne was a very marginal seat, and had been the top target for the Greens at the last three elections. Labor’s Jennifer Kanis narrowly defeated the Greens’ Cathy Oke. The election was the first time that the Greens topped the primary vote in a lower house seat in Victoria.

In March 2013, Geoff Shaw resigned from the Liberal Party, and the following day Ted Baillieu resigned as Premier and Liberal leader. Baillieu was succeeded as Premier by Denis Napthine, who had previously led the Opposition from 1999 to 2002.

For the remainder of the term, the Coalition relied on Shaw’s vote as an independent, or on the casting vote of the Speaker, to maintain its majority in the Legislative Assembly.

Former minister Tim Holding resigned from Parliament in February 2014, triggering a by-election for his seat of Lyndhurst – the fourth by-election in just over three years. The by-election was comfortably won by Labor’s Martin Pakula.

In early 2014, the Speaker, Ken Smith, resigned from his position. Smith had been regularly challenged by the Labor opposition, and had then come into conflict with the now-independent Geoff Shaw. Smith moved to the backbench and a new Speaker was elected.

In May 2014, the Privileges Committee issued a report stating that Shaw had breached the code of conduct for MPs over his use of a parliamentary vehicle. This created a possible crisis for the government – Labor, as well as former Speaker Ken Smith, threatened to vote to expel Shaw from the Parliament, but at the same time Shaw stated that he would vote no confidence in the government. If Labor and Shaw voted no confidence, it could have started the process for an early election. In the end the Labor motion to expel Shaw was defeated, and a Liberal motion to suspend Shaw from the Assembly was passed.