Tim Smith’s reputation ‘shattered’, Ted Baillieu says

Former premier Ted Baillieu has called on senior Liberal MP Tim Smith to consider whether he is too much of a liability to contest the 2022 Victorian election after shattering his reputation in a “spectacular implosion”.

Mr Smith, the Member for Kew, is facing internal pressure to resign from State Parliament after he crashed his car into a Hawthorn home on Saturday while more than two and a half times over the legal alcohol limit.

Tim Smith lost his licence and his place in the shadow cabinet after being caught drink-driving on Saturday. The question now is whether he will lose his job as an MP. Credit:Paul Jeffers

Opposition Leader Matthew Guy said on Monday he was “extremely angry and disappointed” with his loyal ally. He summoned Mr Smith to a face-to-face meeting but refused to say whether the Kew MP should step down from politics.

Mr Guy is due to address the media at 12.30pm on Tuesday.

Speaking on ABC’s Mornings with Virginia Trioli on Tuesday, Mr Baillieu said he expected Mr Smith would decide not to recontest at the next election.

“He’s got a pretty tough choice to make. It’s been a fairly spectacular implosion for somebody who, let’s say, has been a controversial figure on the Coalition side of politics,” Mr Baillieu said.

Mr Smith’s car is taken from the crash site.Credit:Olivia and Charlotte Neish

“But he has imploded. Fortunately, hasn’t hurt anybody, but I think his reputation is very much shattered. He now has to reflect on his own position. The question he has to ask himself is whether he’s now a liability to the Coalition team, whether he’s a liability to the parliamentary party, whether he’s a liability to the Liberal Party.

“And I think the chances are, he will determine that that liability is unlikely to be lifted. He may go to the next election, but whether he recontests I think is a legitimate question.”

Mr Baillieu, who was premier from 2010 to 2013, said Mr Smith was “somebody who’s played hard on the front line”.

“And it’s come full circle.”

Mr Guy said Mr Smith was “very upset and disappointed with himself” following the incident, which will be discussed at a meeting of the party’s powerful administrative committee on Saturday after members raised concerns about Mr Smith’s future in the party.

“He could have led the party,” Mr Guy said. “This is an unfortunate and quite a disastrous moment for him that his career has gone the way that it has.”

Mr Smith crashed his car into a parked vehicle before ploughing into the wall of a Hawthorn home on Saturday night following a dinner with friends. He recorded a blood-alcohol reading of 0.131 – more than two and a half times the legal limit.

The plaster on the inside wall of the home – the bedroom of an 8-year-old child – cracked where the car hit. Mr Smith had his licence automatically suspended for 12 months. Victoria Police confirmed on Monday night the investigation was ongoing.

Mr Smith is believed to have gone to his family’s holiday home in Blairgowrie on the Mornington Peninsula, but Mr Guy said he expected the former frontbencher to front the public “within days” once he reached a decision about his future.

Mr Smith released a statement on Sunday afternoon in which he made no mention of the car crash, but said: “After dinner with friends, I believed I was under the legal limit to drive home. This was not the case.

“I apologise to my constituents, my colleagues, my family and the people of Victoria who expect their elected representatives to uphold the highest standards of behaviour.”

Mr Guy said Mr Smith would pay for any repairs to the Hawthorn property damaged as a result of the crash, and would also have to cover the cost of any taxis, Ubers or public transport used for his work in the next 12 months while his licence was suspended.

Preselection for the safe Liberal seat of Kew opened on Friday. Nominations are to close on November 12.

Even if Mr Smith chooses to recontest the seat, his application will have to be approved by the Liberal Party’s administrative committee. One Liberal Party official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the committee agreed to discuss Mr Smith’s future at a meeting on Saturday.

Discussions have already started about who might nominate for Kew if Mr Smith resigns. Upper house Liberal MPs Matt Bach and Georgie Crozier loom as possible replacements.

City of Melbourne councillor Roshena Campbell and Boroondara deputy mayor Cynthia Watson have also been touted as potential candidates.

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