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Victorian opposition leader moves to expel MP involved in anti-trans protest attended by neo-Nazis

Victoria’s opposition leader will seek to expel controversial MP Moira Deeming from the Liberal party room due to her involvement in an anti-trans protest attended by a neo-Nazi group.

The Liberal leader, John Pesutto, released a statement on Sunday night confirming he had met with Deeming to inform her he will move a motion to expel her from the parliamentary Liberal party.

He described Deeming’s position as “untenable” following her “involvement in organising, promoting and participating in a rally with speakers and other organisers who themselves have been publicly associated with far right-wing extremist groups including neo-Nazi activists”.

A group of men from the National Socialist Movement gathered outside Victoria’s parliament on Saturday in support of British anti-transgender activist Kellie-Jay Keen, who was speaking at the event as part of a national tour.

They were photographed performing the Nazi salute several times.

Deeming spoke at the event and tweeted afterwards: “Disappointed with @VictoriaPolice, who let a bunch of masked men into the LWS buffer zone, terrifying women who were just trying to speak about their rights.”

Pesutto said the scenes outside parliament on Saturday were “an affront to the values we should all hold dear as Victorians”.

“This is not an issue about free speech but a member of the parliamentary party associating with people whose views are abhorrent to my values, the values of the Liberal party and the wider community,” he said.

“The Liberal party I joined, and which I am now honoured to lead, must strive to represent all Victorians.

“Regardless of religious faith, race, sexual preference and identity, Victorians everywhere should know that the Liberal party is inclusive and can be a voice for them.”

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The vote to expel Deeming may have to wait five days under Liberal party rules that require notice to be given. It is likely to be held on Friday and sources close to Pesutto said they were confident the majority of the party room would back the motion.

But it will be the first test for Pesutto, who became the Victorian Liberal leader in December following a crushing state election loss.

The party’s previous leader, Matthew Guy, defended Deeming’s preselection in July last year, describing her attacks on transgender rights as “in the past”.

She was selected to replace outspoken Victorian upper house MP Bernie Finn ahead of the November state election. Finn was booted from the parliamentary Liberal party after he called for abortion to be banned, even for rape survivors.

The scenes at parliament on Saturday prompted calls to ban the display of the Nazi salute.

Last year, Victoria became the first Australian jurisdiction to ban the public display of the Nazi swastika. The ban acted on a recommendation from a parliamentary inquiry into the state’s anti-vilification laws, which called for the criminalisation of all symbols of Nazi ideology.

Deeming was contacted for comment, but has been advised not to make public comments before the vote.

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