Controversial Victorian MP Moira Deeming has avoided being thrown out of the Liberal Party for now after delivering a strong speech where she revealed she had been raped and had faced threats.
Ms Deeming, who represents the Western Metropolitan Region, has been removed from the party room for nine months after appearing at a Let Women Speak rally that was also attended by neo-Nazis last weekend. She said they had not been invited.
Victorian Liberal leader John Pesutto, who had wanted her expelled from the party, said on Monday night Ms Deeming could still be forced out of the party.
‘I can say categorically that if the party room, when it does reconsider this matter … if it sees evidence that there is a difference between what we were assured in written and oral presentations … and what is being posted on social media, then, there will be consequences,’ he told ABC’s 7.30 program.
That followed the revelation she tweeted later to an organiser of the rally: ‘don’t worry, I never condemned you, or KD or KJ.’
Liberal MP Cat Deeming (centre) has been suspended for nine months after appearing at an anti-trans rights rally that was gatecrashed by neo-Nazis but was not thrown out of the party
Ms Deeming at the event with outspoken anti-trans activist Kellie-Jay Keen
In a speech to the party room, she revealed she had been raped as a child and sexually assaulted which is what drove her actions, according to the speech provided to Sky News host Peta Credlin.
‘I note that many of you are confused and annoyed with me for persisting in taking about women’s rights, intersex rights, gay rights, parents rights and safeguards for women and children,’ Ms Deeming told the party room.
‘I assure you the reasons are completely and utterly based on love and compassion, not any sort of bigotry – and not even on religion or conservative politics.
‘When I speak on these issues, I speak from personal experience. My life has been marred repeatedly by rape – at the hands of me – from the age of four.
‘I have been assaulted in public facilities, I was sexually harassed and assaulted by a teacher who later went to jail for having sex with minors.
‘I am driven by a desire to make sure other children and women don’t suffer like I did.’
She said her uncle who helped to raise her was Jewish and the survivor of the Holocaust, which is why she said the allegations she had Nazi links were untrue and ‘deeply and personally offensive and hurtful.’
‘These allegations against me of Nazism and hatred towards the trans community are 100 per cent false, but people will believe them if you support this motion to expel me.’
UK anti-trans activist Kellie-Jay Keen had hosted the event while Ms Deeming was accused of playing a role in ‘organising, promoting and attending’ it
The event was gatecrashed by protestors who performed the Heil Hitler salute and clashed with transgender rights activists who had turned up to demonstrate
Members of the opposition met in a ‘marathon’ two-hour session on Monday morning to vote on the expulsion motion steered by .
Mr Pesutto said Ms Deeming made some ‘important concessions’ around 6.30am and ‘condemned’ material in a dossier that helped alter her fate.
But he also added the behaviour deserved ‘serious consequence’.
‘She certainly made clear to the party room today that she has a lot to learn on these things,’ Mr Pesutto said.
‘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.
‘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.’
A Victorian Liberals insider told NCA NewsWire Ms Deeming’s hard line stances on social issues is hindering the embattled party from gaining more centrist voters.
‘At end of the day, an MP is a brand ambassador for a political party. Moira knows that. Rather than focusing on helping the team rebuild the Liberal Party for the modern era, she’s focused on herself and everyone blowing up with her,’ they said.
‘If you’re joining the Liberal Party to implement regressive politics such as repealing abortion or turning back voluntary assisted dying, it’s not the party for you.
‘John and the leadership team are heading in the right direction, they just need their backbenchers to pull their heads in.’
Mr Pesutto went on to detail what Ms Deeming’s next nine months in parliament would look like.
‘She won’t be a member of the parliamentary Liberal Party, but she’ll still serve her constituents,’ he said.
‘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.’
Deputy Opposition leader David Southwick, who is Jewish, said the Nazi rally led to a tough past few weeks for his constituents.
‘There is no question that what we’re seeing over the last week or so, for all communities, certainly from my community, has been very hurtful, and that was certainly part of the discussion,’ Mr Southwick said.
‘But I think largely, you’ve got to take people on their face value … For me, a real part of anything is actually getting people to admit their wrongs and to give them an opportunity to make them right. And I think that’s what it is.
‘We need to give that opportunity for Moira to make it right. Let’s see what nine months bring, but it’s a big decision. It’s a decision that we haven’t taken lightly. John has shown true leadership that he’s listened and he’s given his colleagues the benefit of the doubt.’
A similar vote last week to delay Ms Deeming’s expulsion motion was lost 18-11.
A previous vote to expel Ms Deeming was unsuccessful with 18 against and 11 for
In an email reportedly sent to party colleagues on Sunday, Ms Deeming said she had ‘guilt by various degrees of association’ but doubled down on her wish to not be ousted.
‘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.
‘And also that my offer to publicly back the current leadership team if the vote to expel me fails still stands.’
Earlier this month, Ms Deeming’s inaugural speech took aim at inclusive measures, including trans women in female-only changerooms, and called on the government to reinstate sex-based rights in the law.
She also went on to say ‘what most women would consider to be sexual harassment and indecent exposure is now legal in Victoria’.
‘Surely there must be ways to ensure the safety and dignity of trans people which do not trample on the rights of women and girls,’ she said.
Ms Deeming also took aim at efforts to widen Victoria’s laws on sex work, saying ‘human newborn babies and children up to 18 months of age are allowed on the premises’ of brothels.
She was previously a teacher before leaving the profession over concerns the curriculum had been ‘radically altered’.