Christian MP Moira Deeming has avoided being thrown out of the Victorian Liberal Party.
Ms. Deeming who represents the Western Metropolitan Region has been suspended for nine months from the parliamentary party after appearing at a Let Women Speak rally that was gatecrashed by a neo-Nazi group who gave the Nazi salute.
The decision came after a two-hour party room meeting which decided against voting to expel the MP who was only elected to state parliament in the November election.
State Liberal Party leader John Pesutto said the downgrading of Ms. Deeming’s punishment to a suspension came about because she condemned Nazism and bigotry against the LGBTQI community.
“She’s suspended from the party room and what she’s accepted is that our discussions around this must always be respectful and inclusive, even if people disagree,” Mr. Pesutto explained.
“That’s part of the process we’ve put in place. She has condemned the material, which was in the dossier which we wanted her to condemn and she will accept a punishment or penalty of a nine-month suspension and losing the whip position,” he confirmed.
“She certainly made clear to the party room today that she has a lot to learn on these things,” the Liberal leader added.
“She knows she’s got a pathway back but she has to earn it too. So for me being a reasonable and sensible person who works with colleagues, I had the unanimous support at the party room to do that. And I think that’s a sensible outcome.”
“She won’t be a member of the parliamentary Liberal Party but she’ll still serve her constituents,” Mr. Pesutto elaborated.
“She will also work in the chamber, she’ll work with people in her area and as a member of parliament, so she’ll continue to do all of that.”
The Australian reports that in an email sent to party colleagues ahead of the party room meeting, Ms. Deeming doubled down on her wish to not be ejected from the party.
“I respectfully write to ask that you vote against the motion to expel me from the Liberal Party parliamentary team because I am innocent of these charges,” Ms. Deeming said.
“I am a brand new MP and deserve the chance to learn from this and because guilt by various degrees of association is not a standard that any one of us can avoid transgressing.”
“I want you all to know that I have learned many painful lessons from this experience and that I deeply regret the trouble this has caused my state and federal colleagues and the wider party membership.”
Prior to the party room meeting, fellow Legislative Council MP Nick McGowan spoke for many when he said: “I do not believe for one second that Moira is a Nazi or a Nazi sympathiser, or has any association with Nazis.”
“The only person responsible for the Nazi salute on the steps of parliament is the premier who took away the police’s power,” Mr. McGowan added.