Victorian Liberal MPs will decide early next week whether Moira Deeming will be expelled from the party room for speaking at a rally supporting women’s rights.
State leader John Pesutto has demanded a vote over Deeming’s future after men performing the Nazi salute crashed the Let Women Speak gathering on Sunday.
Pesutto has claimed Deeming was knowingly associating with Nazis, a claim Deeming has denied.
Several MPs told media they were “unconvinced” that Deeming’s conduct met the “threshold worthy of expulsion”.
“Clearly Moira has nothing to do with Nazis,” they said.
“If there was evidence she had anything to do with them, it would be an immediate hanging offence, but so far all that’s been shown is she’s had an association with someone who has [allegedly] had an association with Nazis.”
Brad Battin and Richard Riordan, both of whom stood for the Liberal leadership after last year’s election loss, along with Ryan Smith, told ABC Radio they did not support Pesutto’s expulsion motion.
“I can’t see any evidence that she’s associated with Nazis … some of the evidence that’s been shown to me appears to have been put together to fit the accusation rather than the other way around,” Smith said.
“The next few days will be the opportunity for leadership to change my view on that. But … I can’t see any reason why we should be expelling someone who’s been firstly elected by the party and then subsequently elected by the people in western Melbourne.”
Pesutto, who won the liberal leadership by just one vote, refused to respond to questions about MPs believing the motion had become a “proxy vote” on his position as party leader.
He also refused to say whether he would step down if the motion to expel Deeming failed.
Pesutto’s letter of motion, addressed to Deeming, was publicly released on Tuesday, outlining the allegations she “conducted activities in a manner likely to bring discredit on the Parliament or the Parliamentary Party”.