With rogue MP Geoff Shaw looking like being accepted back into the Liberal Party to shore up their precarious grip on power in Victoria, Tess Lawrence considers the measure of the man.
[READ PART TWO]
THE GOOD PEOPLE of Frankston in the beleaguered state of Victoria deserve better than the likes of Geoffrey Page Shaw, the Frankstonstein Monster, to represent them.
The personal habits of this clearly hypocritical professed Christian may be out of my realm of judgement and penance, but his repugnant political, pecuniary and pugilistic habits are another thing altogether and what is more, they are all on the public record.
He is a sly, disloyal and disingenuous politician and you may well ask, aren't they all? But some are more so. And the conniving Geoff Shaw is among that number.
Never was that more obvious than Wednesday morning, exactly a week before the Ides of March and with a lazy police report still pending on the compelling evidence of his misconduct relating to the improper use of the parliamentary car unwittingly provided by the short-changed and ill-served Victorian taxpayer.
Shaw resigned from the Liberal Party to laughingly don the facade of an Independent, but not before verbally sowing contaminated seed that it was because he was disaffected with the Government. Bollocks.
You see, before 11am, Shaw gave Louise Asher a non-specific resignation letter. Word spread through Parliament and the media like wildfire — as the political arsonist intended.
Later in the day, after Ted Baillieu resigned, in an expedient act Shaw released a ‒ by then ‒ superfluous media statementsaying that he believed his actions reflected
'…the general loss of confidence Victorians are feeling in the leadership of the government.’
He knew he would throw Ted Baillieu's precarious leadership into greater jeopardy given the Government's slim majority. It was vindictive payback despite the fact that Baillieu repeatedly allowed Shaw too much slack with political and ethical violations.
On May 27 last year, Shaw's black Sabbath was mightily interrupted. In the Sunday Herald Sun, David Hurley and Peter Rolfe exposed Shaw's rorting, quoting testimony from several whistleblowers and putting it in the public domain, where it belongs [IA emphasis]:
Three whistleblowers also told the Sunday Herald Sun of Mr Shaw's Sale trip - which the MP refused to deny last night.
"It was a trip he did in his parliamentary car for Southern Cross purposes," one whistleblower said.
"What he did was not right. He believes he is above it all."
Fresh revelations about misuse of Mr Shaw's parliamentary car came as three independent sources said photocopying and printing for two of Mr Shaw's businesses was done at his electorate office.
"He told all of his accountancy staff that they were only to use the photocopier at his parliamentary office," said a former employee of accountancy firm Geoff Shaw & Partners.
"After he took over the running of the office (in September 2011), it was one of the first things he implemented."
Another source connected with that firm said: "He would send the girls up to his MP office. They were always told to do it, especially when there were large amounts to be done."
A former employee of Southern Cross Hardware has also said price lists for the Carrum Downs business were printed at Mr Shaw's electorate office.
The latest allegations of Mr Shaw misusing taxpayers' money came as a source from within the Department of Parliamentary Services told the Sunday Herald Sun a probe into the Frankston MP, ordered by Premier Ted Baillieu, was doomed to fail.
"The concern that a number of people in the DPS have is that any investigation being done by the Speaker will be hampered, partly because it cannot investigate mobile phone use or use of email.
"The DPS has no verification power. Certain things cannot be verified unless the Victoria Police are involved.
"It (the investigation) needs to be somebody with a law enforcement capacity to be able to verify information that has come out."
The article's last paragraph is telling:
Mr Shaw remained silent in Parliament throughout last week. He smiled from his backbench seat as heated debate raged about his actions.
Shaw was photographed wearing the same asinine smile on Wednesday afternoon in Parliament after Baillieu resigned, falling on the sheath of his unused sword — and Denis Napthine was elected Victoria's 47th Premier.
The power of one majority vote is invested in the unworthy Shaw, and despite the fact that the police report, like an earlier Ombudsman report, may prove damning of Shaw, wooing him back into the Liberal fold started almost before Baillieu quit to find enough legroom on the backbench.
Yesterday afternoon, writing in the Frankston Weekly online, journalist Alecia Pinner pointed out:
In October last year, a report by State Ombudsman George Brouwer, which stopped short of calling for a police investigation, found Mr Shaw’s parliamentary Ford Territory had notched up about 8000 kilometres on commercial trips for the MP’s Carrum Downs hardware business, costing about $1350 in fuel.
Mr Brouwer recommended the Legislative Assembly consider referring Mr Shaw’s use of the car to its privileges committee to determine whether ‘‘that usage was a contempt of Parliament, an abuse of the privileges of the Parliament and/or a breach of the code of conduct established by the Members of Parliament (Register of Interests) Act, and, if so, what penalties should apply to Mr Shaw’’.
In a later embarrassment for the Liberal Party, Mr Shaw was accused of making an obscene gesture in parliament and calling members of the opposition wankers. He later insisted he had called them ‘‘whackers’’.
Mr Baillieu consistently defended the trouble-prone MP, praising him as a ‘‘good local member’’.
Labor called for the parliamentary car issue to be investigated by Victoria Police. Police were quoted yesterday as saying the investigation was ongoing but that it would be inappropriate to comment further.
The Ombudsman Report, entitled
'Investigation into allegations against Mr Geoff Shaw MP October 2012 and pursuant to section 103 of the Whistleblowers Protection Act 2001’
was indeed damning, and compounds the critical need for the community to support and protect whistleblowers, since so often we are betrayed by our own politicians and cannot rely on them to 'out' one of their own.
It is worth noting that the Ombudsman says Shaw ceased his 'interest' in his accounting firm and his hardware shop in July 2012 — coincidentally the same time he was being interviewed.
In addition to his role as a Member of Parliament, Mr Shaw was a Director of Geoff Shaw & Partners, an accounting firm, from 1987; and a Director of Southern Cross Hardware from 2008. At interview in July 2012, Mr Shaw said that his interest in these companies ceased in July 2012.
In the interest of transparency and public accountability we publish these important excerpts.
10. In May 2012, the Hon. Ken Smith MP, Speaker of the Legislative Assembly received disclosures under the Whistleblowers Protection Act1 (the WPA) in relation to the conduct of Mr Shaw. The whistleblowers alleged:
- Mr Shaw used, and allowed his employees to use, his parliamentary vehicle for commercial use
- Mr Shaw may have used copying facilities at his electorate office for commercial use.
11. The Speaker concluded that the disclosures met the requirements for a protected disclosure under Part 2 of the WPA. On 1 June 2012, the Speaker referred the disclosures to me in accordance with section 96 of the WPA.2
12. After consideration, I determined that the disclosures met the requirements for a public interest disclosure as they showed or tended to show that Mr Shaw had engaged in improper conduct, as defined under the WPA. Accordingly, I commenced an investigation into the matters raised in the disclosures. The result of that investigation is contained in this report.
132. My investigation established that Mr Shaw used, and allowed others to use, his parliamentary vehicle for commercial use.
133. Mr Shaw used the vehicle for a commercial trip to Sale. His own evidence was that he would not have travelled to Sale if he did not need to collect Southern Cross Hardware stock. While Mr Shaw states that the trip was ‘incidental’, this is not supported by his evidence.
134. Mr Shaw also used his parliamentary fuel card to purchase fuel for a private vehicle on one occasion, in contravention of the Members of Parliament Motor Vehicle Plan (the plan).
135. I am also satisfied that Mr Shaw gave his parliamentary vehicle to Mr A and Mr B to use for commercial use, including interstate trips, for Southern Cross Hardware. This is supported by the direct evidence of witnesses (including statutory declarations), fuel records, the logbook, expense sheets, interstate accommodation records and diary entries.
136. Given that Mr Shaw’s actions were inconsistent with the plan, I consider that those actions may amount to a breach of privilege, a contempt of Parliament and/or a breach of the code of conduct established by the Register of Interests Act. This is, of course, a matter for the Legislative Assembly to consider and resolve, and for that purpose, I recommend that the House refer this issue to the Privileges Committee 21 of that House or such other Committee as the House considers appropriate for consideration and recommendation to the House.
137. In addition, Mr Shaw has been publicly reported as stating that he will reimburse the Parliament for the cost of any commercial trips undertaken in his vehicle. The Parliament may wish to consider accepting this avenue.
138. I consider that the plan and its legislative basis need to be reviewed to ensure that there is a clear and unambiguous basis for Members’ obligations regarding the vehicles with which they are provided.
The 'obscene' incident referred to in Alecia Pinner's article in the Frankston Weekly took place on October 24 last year when Parliament, guests and onlookers were subjected to the Honourable Member for Frankston, demonstrating his self-gratification (in Pentecostal parlance, self abuse) technique, presumably how he makes it through the night, and clearly, most of the parliamentary day.
Shaw denied he had used the word 'wankers' and he also denied he simulated what is known in the vernacular as 'jerking off'.
Despite seeing a video of Shaw's antics three times, then Premier Ted Baillieu, absent from Parliament at the time, ridiculously said he found such evidence “inconclusive”
However, in The Age next day, State Political Correspondent Richard Willingham was unequivocal, as was the headline 'Shaw did make an obscene gesture'.
The press gallery this afternoon was allowed to see the video and it shows that Mr Shaw made the gesture, which simulated masturbation...Press gallery president John Ferguson and another senior television reporter saw the video during a meeting with the Speaker today. They said Mr Shaw did not appear to be pointing, as he had claimed, but "appeared to be simulating masturbation".
They said they also heard Mr Shaw say what sounded like "wanker", not "wacker".
Quite properly, the Speaker of the House, Ken Smith released the video to the public of his own volition, despite Baillieu telling media he would not ask Smith to do so.
The notion that we are not freely allowed to see and hear and read what takes place in our own Parliament is anti-democratic and smacks of political thuggery. It is utter nonsense and untenable.
We need to know what is being done in our name. Likewise, we need to know what is being denied in our name.
Geoff Shaw clearly misled Parliament and the people.
The video of Shaw simulating masturbation was also published internationally, including in The Telegraph(UK) adding to the perception of the Aussie male as a Yobbo.
The Telegraph could not bring itself to use the word 'wanker' instead firing a blank, thus “..........” peculiarly in quotation marks, although they found themselves able to use the phrase 'simulated masturbation.'
(Read Part Two of the Frankstonstein monster.)
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