“Now that Michael is no longer [leader] and that linkage has been removed, I hope Bernie pulls his head in.”
An internal tussle was expected to flare up during Tuesday’s party room meeting, with MPs bracing for Mr Finn to lash out at the Opposition Leader over the party’s “absolute” commitment to retain new laws that criminalise gay conversion therapy.
That attack did not happen, but two minutes before the meeting ended Mr Finn said he wanted to discuss the Coalition dumping plans to amend the ban on gay conversion therapy at next week’s party room meeting.
Liberal MPs said Mr Guy was vehement that the party’s stance on the ban on gay conversion therapy would not change.
In an extraordinary recent attack, Mr Finn said colleagues who leaked against him were “lowlife dirtbags”.
“[There is a] hate campaign set out to destroy my reputation, career and family, but I’m delighted to say all are holding up very nicely,” Mr Finn wrote on Facebook.
“Those responsible for the lies, smear and defamation were in the organisational wing to begin with, but sadly some are now in Parliament. Contact tracing will find them all connected. All are lowlife dirtbags.
“They should go into the hall of mirrors, take a good hard look at themselves and commit to give Matthew Guy the loyalty and unity of purpose they never gave Michael O’Brien. Alternatively, we could do a deal: if they stop telling lies about me, I won’t tell the truth about them!”
Although some Liberal MPs, including Tim Smith, often stir debate on social media with posts about the government and Premier Daniel Andrews, Mr Finn’s comments are viewed differently in the party because are interpreted as direct attacks on the Liberal Party, its policies and MPs.
“Anyone who brings the party into disrepute by ridiculous comments on social media or in the public, like any political party, they’ll be dealt with appropriately by the appropriate channels,” Mr Guy told reporters at a press conference.
“This is about Victoria, this is about providing an alternative to the state … and what [Victorians] expect is an alternative government to get on with the job of providing that alternative, and I won’t have anything else.”
The Liberals were initially divided over the bill banning gay conversion therapy when it appeared before Parliament late last year.
The party ultimately decided to support the change by choosing not to oppose it in the upper house, and move amendments during the debate.
The bill passed the Legislative Council with the opposition voting with the government, though Mr Finn and Bev McArthur voted against it.
The Coalition last week gave an “iron-clad guarantee” it would not amend the new laws, after The Age earlier revealed it had quietly promised faith groups it would make changes if it won next year’s election.
The amendments would have probably reflected some of the concerns it raised during the parliamentary debate about the rights of children and parents seeking assistance with gender dysphoria and sexual identity issues, and the rights of religious and medical practitioners providing that care.
“The Liberal Party will not be changing these laws, there are no ifs, no buts … I am giving an absolutely iron-clad guarantee,” said James Newbury, the opposition’s spokesman for equality.
“These laws are about a practise which supposes that you can choose being gay – you cannot choose to be gay, you are born gay. There is no praying that will change who you are.”
Mr Finn and Victorian Liberal Party president Robert Clark were both contacted for comment.
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