Federal intervention flagged to sort out Victorian Liberal Party dispute

Liberal leader urges party to 'sort out' the ongoing conflict between John Pesutto and Moira Deeming.

Federal intervention flagged to sort out Victorian Liberal Party dispute
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Opposition leader Peter Dutton has flagged the possibility of federal intervention to address the turmoil within the Victorian Liberal Party involving leader John Pesutto and Moira Deeming.

Legal action was threatened by Deeming against Pesutto if he did not clarify his position regarding the Member for the Western Metropolitan Region after her attendance at a controversial rally in March.

Although initially seeking Deeming's expulsion, the Victorian Liberals ultimately decided on a compromise, committing to issue a statement affirming that Deeming was not being accused of "Nazi" affiliations.

The Opposition leader's office has also attempted to connect Deeming to various individuals involved in the protest, including anti-transgender rights activist Kellie-Jay Keen.

On Thursday, a leaked email revealed that Deeming, who had been suspended for nine months, claimed the agreement had not been fulfilled and threatened legal action if a statement was not released by 2pm. Dutton, the Liberal Party of Australia leader, stressed the need for a swift resolution, stating, "it doesn't help our brand."

Dutton expressed his desire for the situation to be resolved on ABC RN Breakfast, refusing to rule out federal intervention and urging the Victorian division to address the issue promptly.

He affirmed his support for Pesutto, describing him as a "decent man" and asserting that the internal strife distracted from critical issues.

Minutes from a March 27 party room meeting revealed that Pesutto had been warned that expelling Deeming would be detrimental to the party.

Former Bailieu government treasurer Kim Wells criticised the handling of the situation, while shadow planning minister David Hodget and first-term MP Nick McGowan expressed their dissatisfaction with the party's position and urged compromise.

Deeming's email on Thursday emphasised her priority of clearing her name for her children's sake, claiming that she had accepted a nine-month suspension in exchange for exoneration from all allegations.

She stated that she had tried for six weeks to reach an agreement on a "mutually satisfactory joint statement" and warned that if she received no response from Pesutto's office, she would consider the suspension agreement dishonoured.

In a press conference on Thursday, Pesutto reiterated the party room's decision on March 27 but did not express concern about potential legal action from Deeming.

He maintained that his focus remained on holding the Andrews government accountable and stated that he would be "guided by the party room" and collaborate with his colleagues on Deeming's potential expulsion.

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  • By Avi Yemini

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