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RED TED: Baillieu’s demise and Napthine’s rise shows that VEXNEWS is wise, reckon Tweeps


This publication and its predecessor has long been puzzled about Ted Baillieu’s leadership. We were certainly puzzled by his 2010 election win. It seemed he was a bit too.

His decision to resign confirmed what our Liberal sources had long argued: that he wasn’t up to it. And it appeared he jumped just as his usually strong numerical superiority over potential rivals like Matthew Guy was beginning to crumble. Or had crumbled.

But the voters sorted that out in some respects in 2010, so the tone of our reporting on his leadership deliberately changed because it seemed those who wanted Baillieu gone – and predicted it as always being imminent – were proven to be tilting at windmills.

The bizarre events of yesterday show they were spot on.

Indeed, some have foreshadowed these events, as many kind Tweeters – including former ABC state politics reporter Ryan Sheales – observed last night when we were out celebrating VEXNEWS’ famous victory, after one had dug up an article we’d published in 2008 about Napthine’s possible to return to leadership.


This is a bit like predicting Essendon’s next Premiership. It is inevitable. And it will come sooner than all you haters think. When Essendon does win one, I will probably not be able to chalk it up as prophecy. Same with Napthine.

What we recall is that there was a substantial bloc of country members who were sceptical about Baillieu and – perhaps ironically in the circumstances – was more like the then strong-performer Nats Leader Peter Ryan.

What happened yesterday is that bloc of mainly country members who think Matthew Guy too urban, too aggressive, too ambitious, too certain of himself insisted in a moment of crisis that they stick with the devil they know. Some speculate that this occurred when the irrepressible but clueless Murray Thompson put himself forward as alternate leader, no doubt urged on by his formidable wifey. That’s not true, the Napthine possibility had been quietly discussed for some time, by the country gentlefolk concerned.

And in our view, it was a devil of a decision. And a mistake. The biggest risk in life is not taking any. Which has been too frequently the story of this government. Governing is a spectrum with unacceptably hasty, Whitlam-paced, under-explained, no-consultation changes at one end and do-nothing, visionless, hyper-cautious Baillieu on the other.

They’ve just got to shift that perception and the reality under the Napthine government.

Denis Napthine, just like Ted Baillieu, they all say, everyone says to the extent it’s downright nauseating, is a good, honest, decent man. A country vet who you could buy a used ute from and get at least 20 years mileage from.

Is that voters want? A safe pair of hands?

It’s not what this voter wants but we liked Kennett, Keating and others who pursue the big changes no matter what the flak or fire. Blokes (and women too) who’d have a crack. Not die wondering. Our view, for what it’s worth, is what’s the point of putting up with unpleasantness of being in politics if you’re not going to do things, big substantial things, that make life better for all of us. There are too many who don’t bother and they are almost certainly an overwhelming majority of both sides of politics.

And with the greatest of respect to Denis Napthine, a new Premier, who deserves the benefit of the doubt and our best wishes in the toughest job in Victorian politics, most will seriously wonder whether he’ll just be more of the same dithering, more of the same incompetent management of so-called “scandals” that weren’t or ought not have been, more of the same visionless, uninspiring government we’ve had. We very much hope he’s not like that.

So the country members got the MP they’re comfortable with. And, you never know, maybe that will serve the Libs/Nats very well outside of Melbourne as Denis the country vet will probably play better than Ted the Toorak toff (he’s not from Toorak or much of a toff as it happens).

But for it to work, they’ve got to govern with a sense of passion, urgency, purpose, vision, clarity, unity and strength. I think Michael O’Brien has a bit of that and it’s become clear that Matthew Guy, stuck in the upper house inconveniently, is the minister in this government that despite having a tricky area to manage who could bring all those qualities to this Victorian government as its leader.

Don’t believe the polls, or the mugs interpreting them, who say Baillieu wasn’t going to get re-elected. We thought he probably would have. Although we note one of our regular contributors thought and argued otherwise.

First-term governments rarely lose. Unless, of course, they are so bad they dump their first-term leader partly through the first-term. It is hard to imagine that federal Labor would be their guide, a situation that reminds everyone that making a change (very necessary in Rudd’s case) is as expensive as hell. The new Leader in that case has got to be so much better than the predecessor that it silences concern.

Can Denis the country vet manage that? Not many seem to think so but we’ll keep an open mind. And do what not enough commentators do which is affirm our democratic system by actually extending some goodwill to the bloke, especially as he starts.

This turn of events has been so astonishing that the former Liberal staffer turned brilliant investigative reporter and commentator James Campbell ought get a shout-out.

His series of stories on what seemed to outsiders as a very sleazy approach to knifing the Victorian Police Commissioner and helping out a fallen staffer were devastating in their impact and certainly played a massive role in the Premier’s resignation.

Campbell, renowned for his modesty and self-effacement, will resist this description but he is emerging as one of the most heavy-hitting journalists in Australia, with his reports into an epic sex scandal causing the ousting of the Director of Public Prosecutions (a life-time appointment) Jeremy Rapke and now the Tristan Weston saga that prompted Baillieu’s departure represent a pretty amazing record. His other records, legend has it, relate to the consumption of chicken, a story perhaps for another time.

The bloke who reckoned we’d called him a “bloody axe-murderer” on VEXNEWS, Baillieu Chief-of-Staff Tony Nutt also gets credit for the sparks of a disgruntled staffer and MP (Bill Tilley) turning into a raging bushfire.

As we reported earlier, the expectation is that Nutt won’t stay on in the Premier’s office but still enjoys goodwill from the government so might very well get a cushy overseas posting of the kind provided to Michael Kapel, who represents the good people of Victoria on the streets of San Francisco.



Comments are disallowed for this post.

  1. Nappy as Premier OMG.

    Posted by anon | March 7, 2013, 10:32
  2. When you rake as much muck as you do, you’re bound to get something right eventually – pity you were 5 years too early.

    Posted by Plato Sandilands | March 7, 2013, 10:59
  3. Does anyone know where Centrelink is as I need to register as a Jobseeker?

    Posted by Nutty | March 7, 2013, 11:10
  4. A man with 8% support as Leader is now Premier. Hee hee hee the Victorian Liberals are hopeless. And when with the Nats cut loose Ryan, as he the stinky pong from his untruths is now unbearable.

    Posted by anon | March 7, 2013, 11:21
  5. It is what Teddy knew and when he knew it; Ryan ought to be next because of Overland. The other reason is Libs thought they would never be elected in the first place. They never did have any policies and still don’t. All they do have is Geoff Shaw! Thank you and goodnight to them.

    Posted by Alison | March 7, 2013, 14:25
  6. wow – reminds me of the knifing of Rudd and Turnbull and Nelson and Latham and Crean and Beazley and Peacock and Howard and Hawke and Hayden and etc

    Posted by the Insider | March 7, 2013, 14:37
  7. It’s a strange situation, because as limp and ineffectual as the Liberals seemed under Baillieu, we all know Labor under Daniel Andrews will be much worse. Will be a complete disaster if he somehow walks into the job.

    Posted by Alex | March 7, 2013, 15:27
  8. Interesting fact:

    Naphthalene is an organic compound with formula C10H8. It is the simplest polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon, and is a white crystalline solid with a characteristic odor that is detectable at concentrations as low as 0.08 ppm by mass.[1] As an aromatic hydrocarbon, naphthalene’s structure consists of a fused pair of benzene rings. It is best known as the main ingredient of traditional mothballs.

    Posted by Napthine | March 7, 2013, 15:50
  9. Perhaps he should have got a jewelled choker at the swearing in, fused and bolted around his neck!

    Posted by Alison | March 7, 2013, 17:37
  10. Congrats to Denis and good luck.

    Some advice to you Denis(and the ministerial team): 1. please make your own mark, distinctive style etc. Don’t tell people you’re a shorter version of Ted or a humbler version of Jeff for that matter; 2. Sack Nutt despite his competence/loyalty etc he is unfortunately damaged goods 3. Do not bring Shaw back in unless he is cleared but mend fences with him 4. Reshuffle – including sack any deadwood – refer #1 – you need to have your stamp on this government 5. Make decisions – gutsy ones that will be seen in the long term interest of the State 6. While the AAA rating is important, spend up big on infrastructure that will boost the long term competitiveness of Victoria

    Good luck!

    Posted by Sad businessman | March 7, 2013, 18:06
  11. What is the relationship between Geoff Shaw and Michael Kroger?

    The sad fact is that Geoff Shaw should never have been preselected. His behaviour disgraced himself, the Liberal party and the Government. Shaw went a huge step further into disloyalty and became the treacherous poison assassin. Where does that leave Geoff Shaw? His brand is disgrace and treachery. Not something anyone would want to associate with.

    Michael needs to be careful that in his efforts to pull down Ted he doesn’t wreck the Liberal party. Daniel Andrews could not wish for a better ally than Michael.

    Posted by Connect dots | March 7, 2013, 19:01
  12. Big ethics mistake only calling him “a good local member” and allowing privileges committee to investigate the alleged rorting.

    Now it will all be swept under carpet, he’s going to be called a great local member and be guaranteed pre-selection again to Frankston.

    Posted by Good local member | March 7, 2013, 19:34
  13. Michael Kroger has “f” ed up 2 marriages with his personality, so far Geoff Shaw has only destroyed one!!!

    Posted by anon | March 7, 2013, 19:45
  14. Correction!!! That is correct only if you don’t include ‘Dirty Donna’s’ marriage that is also a dead duck.

    Posted by anon | March 7, 2013, 19:47
  15. There is some good advice above for the new Premier and I also wish him and the Victorian Liberal good luck.

    It’s a very sad day when a man of such high integrity as Ted Baillieu can be knifed by unpricipled self interested operators like Kroger behind scenes and Shaw as his pawn. These two represent the ugly face of the Liberal Party.
    I hope they will both pull their heads in now and let the government succeed.

    Posted by Another sad businessman | March 7, 2013, 20:48
  16. He was known as “Shifty Shaw” for a reason even before his pre-selection.

    Posted by Ask around in Frankston | March 7, 2013, 21:01
  17. 7:30 REPORT tonight
    MICHAEL KROGER:” I think it would be very foreign to him to have a situation where people in his own parliamentary party were so strongly opposed to him. And I think, was that a motivating factor? It probably was.”

    Kroger did nothing but work to bring Ted Baillieu down. His assiduously hard work at this before the 2010 election meant the government had only obtained 1 seat majority which allowed the most dubious of all of the Krogerites Geoff Shaw to strike Ted in the back.

    Kroger’s reward is that he will wear Geoff Shaw’s stench around his neck for the rest of his days.

    Posted by Connect dots | March 7, 2013, 21:41
  18. The irony in the latest turn of events is Kroger’s campaign against Denis Napthine cost the Liberals the 2002 election. Now in 2013 we have come a full circle and Napthine is back. But Kroger’s hatred of Napthine hasn’t changed. Kroger will fight like mad and undermine to try to prevent the Libs winning in 2014.

    The only time Kroger has “missed” is when against all the odds and all the undermining going on Ted Baillieu won in 2010. But even when Ted was polling very well, Kroger has been doing all he could to undermine and pull him down.

    It is not about policy or delivery of the message or government. It is all about one very frustrated wrecker with no loyalty to anyone but himself who is not even in the Parliamentary Liberal Party.

    Muzzle him.

    Posted by Muzzle him | March 7, 2013, 22:39
  19. Kroger doesn’t wear Geoff Shaw around his neck. Geoff Shaw is the expression of Kroger in Parliament. Shaw can disloyally rat out the new leader too when it suits. Former State Party President who never ran for elected office now with wrinkles on his face ekes out his relevance through people like Geoff Shaw.
    Victoria is a naturally conservative State but we will probably never have a stable decent and successful government that Victoria deserves until Kroger changes his spots and learns the meaning of loyalty (ha!) or croaks.

    Posted by dot | March 7, 2013, 23:33
  20. Let’s have the names of the MP’s pushing to get more superannuation like this thieving cun t shaw.
    If Napthine gives Shaw the old style super rort to keep his tainted vote, they both deserve to go to prison for a long time. Bailleu can hold his head high for telling Shaw to go fuck himself.

    Posted by thieving fucking pigs | March 8, 2013, 9:21
  21. Bailleu canned with money from coc-a Coller and for super rort

    Posted by long gone | March 8, 2013, 10:35
  22. So I read that Shaw wants more money for his vote for the Liberal Party? His rorts were not enough for him, :”please Sir can I have some more?” he said to Ted? Effing disgrace – the man has no shame at all.

    Posted by No shame | March 8, 2013, 16:23
  23. They need to extend the old super scheme to everyone or just scrap it for all the current and former MPs, judges and everyone else slurping on the teet of the taxpayer. Having one class of MPs on a generous system and another on a crap one is going to cause great instability in the years ahead. There are only two ways to go: scrap the old scheme completely or extend it to current and future MPs.

    Posted by Katie Hall | March 8, 2013, 16:40
  24. Kroger sadly has passed his use by date – it is unlikely that he has any close contacts left in the State Parliamentary Liberal Party and even amongst the Federal Liberals.

    The episode with Costello, whether there was some truth in what he said or not (and I don’t know) alienated 90% of his former support base within the party.

    He remains a powerful media commentator and does have some insights but he is well out of touch with the modern liberal party. His interventions do more harm than good however.

    Posted by Sad businessman | March 8, 2013, 16:47
  25. There is absolutely no evidence that Kroger was behind what happened – the reality is that he is a former powerbroker not a current one. For example – is there one person on the Admin committee that is a supporter of Kroger? Even amongst those who used to be on Admin – in Kemp’s time for example – they have all deserted him.

    Posted by Southern Liberal | March 8, 2013, 16:53
  26. Southern Liberal – I agree broadly with you re Kroger.

    More advice to you Denis – I think you should form a new ‘kitchen cabinet’ of advisers of people both inside and outside the party. It should be a mix of political, business and social policy smarts – ideally people who have a mixture of these skills.

    My recommendations – and I hope they aren’t the kiss of death – would be (not in order):
    David Davis
    Kim Wells
    The present or any of the former party treasurers of the last 15 years(except Drew who is the invisible man!)
    Jeff Kennett
    David Kemp
    John Roskam (though be careful as some ideas are a bit wild)
    Someone from the Masters Builders
    Mathew Guy
    Sen Scott Ryan (you need a current fed perspective)

    I’m not suggesting they all meet as a group but that their input is actively sought.

    Thanks for following my previous advice – though I’m sure its a coincidence.

    Posted by Sad businessman | March 8, 2013, 17:12
  27. If Napthine does a deal with the rorter and traitor Shaw to give in to his demands, how does he keep his integrity! Sad that Victoria is not the place for a Premier with integrity like Ted Baillieu. Napthine has been left with a Faustian choice – do the right thing like Ted or do a deal with Shaw. The Shaw/Napthine government could then try to make Ted Baillieu some kind of scapegoat to try and turn their own fortunes around. What a low spectacle that would be. Their only advantage would be that Daniel Andrews is even lower.

    Posted by Tough choice | March 8, 2013, 19:16
  28. Matthew Guy for Minister for Transport. He would be outstanding.

    Posted by Anon | March 8, 2013, 19:57
  29. Guy is as shonky as Ryan.

    Posted by anon | March 8, 2013, 21:18
  30. None of this is my fault the South East Liberals are all full of integrity like me and my little Paulie.

    Posted by Inga Binga | March 8, 2013, 21:42
  31. I am more than happy to give Ted’s teenage daughters a special ride home.

    Posted by RDR | March 8, 2013, 21:57
  32. Dr Napthine is descended from Joseph Potaski, the first Jewish Pole to arrive in Australia.

    Posted by Joe | March 9, 2013, 5:02
  33. RDR, is that is you Geoff Shaw?! Suggest you stick to simulating masturbation in Parliament.

    Posted by Re RDR | March 9, 2013, 6:00
  34. So what happens to Ted’s media “genius” Josephine “Alopecia” Cafagna?

    Posted by Roy Tuswell Seat Sniffer | March 9, 2013, 10:36
  35. Like Bailieyou up Dr Naptime will be asleep at the wheel

    Posted by Argus Tuft | March 9, 2013, 23:18
  36. If only Ryan had kept his mouth shut. If only Nutt had kept his word and helped Weston out. If only……If only. One of the most frustrating phrases in the English language

    Posted by Anonymous | March 10, 2013, 23:15
  37. Just watched ABC TV Four Corners on NSW ALP. What a bunch of low life scum bags

    Posted by Adrian Jackson | March 11, 2013, 21:19