tip off

On the mean streets of Frankston, there is support for Geoff Shaw

Victorian MP Geoff Shaw may have been roundly condemned in the MSM for sparking a parliamentary crisis — but in his electorate of Frankston, Crikey intern Jake Stevens found he’s quite popular.

Geoff Shaw

He might be a nutjob, but he’s our nutjob,” said Mark, a Frankston local who was lighting a cigarette as he waited for a bus. “He’s eccentric and he’s probably bad for Parliament, but I don’t care, he gets things done for Frankston.”

Mark is talking about maverick Victorian MP Geoff Shaw, a polarising figure in his home electorate. It’s appropriate that Melbourne’s least reputable suburb is home to perhaps Victoria’s least reputable MP.

Shaw has again found himself in the spotlight as the provoker behind the Victorian parliamentary crisis. The independent MP has threatened to use his crucial vote to vote down the Coalition Napthine government, and now risks being suspended or expelled from Parliament for misusing his taxpayer-funded car.

With all eyes on Shaw, Crikey headed down to the bayside city of Frankston, an hour out of Melbourne by train. Shaw, who basks in the light of controversy, is in many ways similar to the city he represents. He may be a bit rough around the edges, but a lot of the residents Crikey spoke to kind of liked that renegade quality. He’s seen as a bit of a fighter, but he gets results.

Last year Shaw was the driving force behind a $13.8 million grant that has cleaned up the station and bus interchange areas, a $65,000 initiative to install CCTV cameras around the city and $2.5 million to restore and protect the Kananook Creek and parklands. Sure, he might be using his crucial balance-of-power vote for a bit of pork-barrelling, but from the view of some Frankston residents, it’s yielding results.

And some think things are looking up in Frankston. Council initiatives such as the Thursday farmers’ market have brought a fresh breath of fresh air to the once dreaded streets. The “clean-up” of the city, including frequent police operations around the area, has improved the town’s safety and created a more vibrant, cultural atmosphere.

Sure, Frankston has some druggies, some bogans and such, but what town doesn’t? People need to look at the positive aspects like our parks, the beautiful scenery, and the beach,” Sara, a local stallholder, told me.

I hate telling people I’m from Frankston. Where I live is nothing like you may think,” another resident said. “People hear of all this bad stuff happening in Frankston, but it’s actually a lovely place with an undeserved reputation.”

But for every supporter of Shaw on the streets, there was another who was just as annoyed with his business and felt he didn’t represent Frankston properly.

This isn’t what we voted for,” said Colin of Frankston South. “He’s egotistical and should definitely step down from Parliament. He should’ve just kept quiet until the election in November but has decided to kick up a fuss, and it is not good for politics or for Frankston.”

Colin went on: “Every politician is a bit dodgy in some way, he was stupid enough to get caught. Lots of people steal petrol, I’m not so angry about that, it’s just the integrity of the man — he’s dangerous with power, and we don’t want that representing Frankston.”

Another resident commented: “A lot of us actually don’t like the man, but he’s made Frankston a much better place than it was. Just once, I’d like a good pollie who does good things and isn’t a dickhead — unfortunately I don’t think they exist though.”

Crikey headed to Shaw’s electorate office in central Frankston, where a Sky TV crew and radio journalists waited outside on the pavement, getting ready for live crosses. The receptionist fetched a spokesman (there was no sign of the man himself).

The spokesman told Crikey there had long been a media beat-up around Shaw and his personal affairs. He said people who actually lived in Frankston knew the work Shaw did was great. It’s those outside of the city who looked down on Shaw because the mainstream media depicted him as an untrustworthy and strange man, the spokesman claimed.

8
  • 1
    zut alors
    Posted Friday, 6 June 2014 at 1:19 pm | Permalink

    Frankston should revel in the benefits Shaw has made possible within the electorate because he’ll never have this degree of clout again, even if (by some miracle) re-elected.

  • 2
    Dion Giles
    Posted Friday, 6 June 2014 at 1:55 pm | Permalink

    What Geoff Shaw does at home is of significance for Victoria, but of global significance is his scouring the mainly Confederate states of America to link up with a coordinated campaign by Tea Party freaks, hobgoblins and monsters to edge away from women their Roe vs Wade rights to ownership and control of their own bodies.

    Does anyone know about the reputation of the judge(s) whom he was trying to promote within the Victorian Government?

  • 3
    Luke Miller
    Posted Friday, 6 June 2014 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

    Very few people in Frankston would’ve voted directly for Shaw, rather they voted for the Liberal party brand.

    If anything, Shaw is a reflection on the Liberal Party and a lapse in their vetting process.

  • 4
    SusieQ
    Posted Friday, 6 June 2014 at 2:39 pm | Permalink

    Least reputable suburb’ no way! - there’s a list of suburbs worse than Frankston (I grew up there). I agree with Luke Miller, Shaw is the Liberals problem, they preselected him in the first place by allowing the loony Christian right to control the branches. He may be getting things done but I’m not sure I like the way he goes about it.
    I can’t see him appealing to the South Frankston lot, they have always fancied themselves as living in Mt Eliza….

  • 5
    Kevin Bain
    Posted Friday, 6 June 2014 at 3:56 pm | Permalink

    So you did some tourism to Frankston and some voxpops around the street. And Shaw’s spokesman said he was a good guy. Great work!

    What about the physical disputes and bullying,insults towards indigenous people, right to life crusading, and,according to the premier,now trying to influence judicial appointments.

    His motto is “Delivering for Frankston”, but we didn’t expect deliveries to Lakes Entrance, Wagga Wagga, South Australia, Albury.

  • 6
    Luke Hellboy
    Posted Friday, 6 June 2014 at 5:38 pm | Permalink

    One renegade politician who disrupts the two-party political system to represent his electorate and personal convictions (even if he is, as was eloquently put, a dickhead) is a threat to democracy. A whole parliament acting that way is healthy, functioning democracy.
    If people complain that they just ticked the Liberal box but ended up with a person they didn’t expect, they only have their own ignorance or political disengagement to blame.

  • 7
    AR
    Posted Friday, 6 June 2014 at 5:47 pm | Permalink

    I don’t know whether “intern” means unpaid, work experience nepotism but Jakey boy, you really need to tighten up your verbiage. Try parsing or reading aloud before hitting send.
    “use his crucial vote to vote down the Coalition/a fresh breath of fresh air/annoyed with his business” - no idea whether this last was a typo for ‘this business’ or ‘his busyness’.

  • 8
    Posted Sunday, 8 June 2014 at 4:32 pm | Permalink

    Geoff Shaw may be an asset to his electorate-I can’t see it, but they apparently can. If he is so good let him devote all his time to Frankston. Or do the people of this city enjoy being host to a crook, a bible basher, an egocentric fool with a permanent smirk on his face.

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