Former Liberal Leaders Take Conflicting Positions on Moira Deeming’s Expulsion from Victorian Opposition
The recent expulsion of Moira Deeming from the parliamentary arm of the Victorian Liberal Party has sparked differing reactions from two former Liberal Party leaders. Ms Deeming was expelled from the party almost two months after attending a Let Women Speak rally that was crashed by a group of neo-Nazis. The event led to an unsuccessful attempt by Opposition Leader John Pesutto to have the upper house MP expelled from the party. However, the expulsion ultimately occurred six weeks later after Ms Deeming commenced legal action against Mr Pesutto.
Tony Abbott’s Reaction
Former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott slammed the move, stating, “As a father of three daughters, I’m utterly dismayed that a mainstream political party would sack a member of Parliament for defending women’s rights.” He added, “To the extent that the Liberal Party has a women’s problem, it must have gotten much, much worse by the expulsion of this brave and smart woman from its own ranks.”
Jeff Kennett’s Reaction
In contrast, former Victorian Liberal Premier Jeff Kennett said that the expulsion was a result of Ms Deeming not being a team player. He stated, “If you want to join a team, you do that voluntarily. Once a member of a team, you’ve got to work together as a member of that team. And if you don’t like what the team is doing, you either get out… or you run the risk of being thrown out if you continue to bring discredit on the team.” Mr Kennett added, “So what has happened to Ms Deeming, I’m sorry, but it’s a fact of life; if you join a team and then start kicking goals for the opposition, then either you decide to leave or the team has got to take action. I don’t like what has happened, but it has happened (and) I’m all about team. Individuals on their own never win a thing, teams of people do.”
The differing reactions from two former Liberal Party leaders highlight the ongoing debate within the party regarding the treatment of women and the importance of team loyalty. While Tony Abbott sees Ms Deeming’s expulsion as a sign of the party’s “women’s problem,” Jeff Kennett argues that it was necessary to maintain team cohesion. The incident raises questions about the role of individualism versus teamwork in politics and the need for political parties to balance these competing values.