Victorian Liberals have sidestepped a motion to expel their upper house party whip for associating with an activist who had tweeted about an anti-transgender rights rally that “Nazis and women want to get rid of paedo filth”.
But in a move widely seen as destabilising Opposition Leader John Pesutto’s 16-week Liberal leadership, a party meeting on Monday defied his urging to expel Western Metropolitan MLC Moira Deeming, opting instead for a nine-month suspension and a subsequent review of her membership.
Deeming was under fire from many of her party colleagues for promoting and attending Let Women Speak, a March 19 rally on the steps of Victoria’s Parliament House which drew masked neo-Nazis who repeatedly gave Hitler salutes.
Pesutto said last week he would move to have Deeming expelled from the party and was adamant about not accepting compromises.
The motion stated that Deeming needed to be expelled because she met with anti-transgender rights activist Kellie-Jay Keen-Minshull (aka Posie Parker), and posted a video after the rally which featured her alongside Keen-Minshull, activist Angie Jones, and former NSW Liberal candidate Katherine Deeves.
Part of Pesutto’s motion read, “Angie Jones on that day posted on Twitter words that, in the mind of any reasonable and lay observer, made association with Nazis, including … posting the words ‘Nazis and women want to get rid of paedo filth. Why don’t you,’ “.
But on Monday Pesutto fell short of the 16 members he needed to vote in favour, among the party’s 31 state MPs.
Speaking after the meeting, Pesutto said Deeming had issued a condemnation of hate speech in social media just before Monday’s meeting.
“The new material she supplied this morning opened the doorway to a sensible proposal that I put to the party room that saw her accept the nine months [suspension], losing the party whip position as well.
“The conduct that I wanted condemned has been condemned.”
Deeming, who had earlier denied any wrongdoing, was expected to make a statement after the meeting.
More in this week’s AJN.