At 10am on Monday 27 March, Victorian Liberal Party MPs will vote on Opposition Leader John Pesutto’s motion to expel Moira Deeming from the party based on her involvement in Kellie-Jay Keen’s #LetWomenSpeak event in Melbourne and false accusations that she is associated with Neo-Nazis and far right extremists.
This afternoon, all Victorian Liberal MPs received the below letter from a senior lawyer, Liberal and concerned father and husband in Pesutto’s Hawthorn electorate regarding Moira’s expulsion.
His words echo what many of us are feeling about the grossly unjust and shameful move to expel Moira – a woman who has simply defended the sex-based rights of women and girls – from the party:
Dear Mr Pesutto,
Your motion to expel Ms Deeming appears both ill-considered and without substantive evidence to justify your allegation that Ms Deeming is a member or substantively connected with right wing extremist organisations. I live in Hawthorn and at the last election supported your candidacy as our local member of the Victorian Parliament. Of course you won the seat by a narrow margin. If your motion succeeds you may be assured that you will not have my support at the next State election. Apart from my position, I have formed my opinion after discussion with long serving members of the Liberal Party some of whom have served parliamentary terms.
Ill Considered Issue. First, Ms Deeming’s position on women’s objection to sharing facilities with men who have undertaken biological changes ('women with penises') and her desire to strengthen laws that authorise “medical transitions” are well known. Her position on these issues predates the events of 18th March 2023. More importantly her position follows other women (and men) who share similar views which have been expressed well before Ms Deeming made her comments – JK Rowling is an obvious opinion leader. The entitlement of 'women with penises' to participate in women’s sport has also been the subject of much diatribe – although some sporting bodies have made considered decisions. That Ms Deeming is a protagonist is hardly surprising – many women in our community rightly possess views about these issues. Until recent times your party has encouraged its members to participate in debates that are quite fundamental to important social issues. Is there anything much more important at the present time than to expose the fallacious concept of a minority that 'women with penises' are women or that the self-declaration of gender is a human right? Secondly, your motion relies for its substance upon the chatter of social media published by groups whose publication are ill-researched nonsense, are designed to eliminate genuine debate and personally attack those who disagree with their drivel. Thirdly, the events of 18th March provided you with the ideal opportunity to support the views of JK Rowling and those women (including Ms Deeming) by reframing the Premier’s taunt. However, you seem to have wandered into an obvious wasteland which Mr Andrews invited you to step, by responding to his mindless taunts.
Substantive Evidence. The evidence that you have produced – mostly social media commentary produced by unidentified individuals and published on platforms that are entirely unrelated to Ms Deeming – does not support your assertion that “in the mind of a reasonable lay observer” a particular social media comment amounts to evidence that Ms Deeming holds the views expressed in the comment. You will no doubt be aware that the law does not absolve decision makers (and your parliamentary party is a decision maker in this case) from the obligation to make findings of fact based on material which is logically probative in which the rules of evidence provide a guide. The material that supports your application to have Ms Deeming expelled from the Liberal Party hardly satisfies this standard.
Natural Justice. The Rules of the Victorian Parliament that relate to expulsions seem not to meet the minimum standards demanded by the laws of natural justice. To consider the prosecution of a motion by the leadership of the Parliamentary Liberal Party (PLP) that materially affects the reputation and standing of a member of the PLP who is not in the leadership group where the judgment of the motion will be made in by a body of members of the PLP (many of whom possess patronage obligations to the leadership), lacks the impression of an unbiased tribunal. From the material present in your motion no mention is made of Ms Deeming right’s to be represented or the rules that will apply to the determination of her case and hardly provides Ms Deeming with sufficient time to consider the evidence presented or prepare a reasonable defence.
Consequence. One consequence is that the process you have commenced suffers from a lack of objectivity that should be present in such proceedings where reputations are put in question. Not only is Ms Deeming’s reputation in issue but also your reputation and that of the Liberal Party in Victoria. It opens the questions about whether the focus of leadership of the State Liberal Party in Victoria is adrift and the competence of those people to lead an already diminished political party. Why would you judge it strategically important to start an expulsion process against a sitting Liberal member on flimsy evidence, when the State is facing an energy crisis, the Victorian health system is in a parlous state, the publication of Integrity Commission Reports remain blocked, the education standards in Victoria are lamentable and the State’s debt is at dangerously high levels – all of which events can be substantiated by reasonable evidence and connected to Labour?
Whilst it may be embarrassing to withdraw the motion, you might consider that the adverse consequences for you in your electorate and the Liberal Party as a whole far outweigh such embarrassment. The poor decision related to Ms Deeming will inevitably expose you and your Party to the social media diatribe that you rely upon to prosecute Ms Deeming and perhaps legal proceedings.
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