The opposition leader is being threatened by defamation action from former Liberal MP Moira Deeming, and a lengthy mediation session on Tuesday failed to yield any resolution.
John Pesutto, when speaking to Neos Kosmos, said he spent about three hours in mediation on his birthday last Tuesday afternoon with Moira Deeming.
Despite the lengthy discussions, Pesutto characterised the meeting as “constructive,” indicating they had made progress on some issues.
“Mediation is a challenging process, but I think we made progress,” said Pesutto, adding that legal representatives for both parties would continue the negotiations.
After her involvement earlier this year, deeming was expelled from the parliamentary party in an anti-transgender rally disrupted by a group of masked men making Nazi salutes.
In response, she issued multiple defamation notices to Pesutto regarding his comments after the event. One of the claims revolves around Pesutto allegedly accusing her of being a Nazi sympathiser and using this allegation as a basis for threatening her with expulsion.
Pesutto denied making such accusations, maintaining that he did not label the now independent MP as a Nazi or suggest any Nazi sympathies on her part.
Last week, UK anti-trans rights activist Kellie-Jay Keen also served defamation concerns notices to Pesutto, deputy leader David Southwick, upper house leader Georgie Crozier, and deputy upper house leader Matt Bach.
Pesutto refrained from revealing whether his party would cover his legal expenses, describing the situation as “uncharted territory.”
Senior Liberals have told Neos Kosmos that there is a “real sense that the tide has turned in the fight against the Andrews government” regardless of challenges posed by what they said was a “campaign by the far-right fringe.”
They said the impact of the Opposition’s attack on Premier Dan Andrew’s decision to cancel the Commonwealth Games has, “translated to lift the party’s number in the last two polls.”
The result in the seat of Warrandyte in Melbourne’s north-east the lift in the party’s primary vote of “around 10 per cent was indicative that Pesutto’s strategy has cut through.”
They said that the primary vote shows that the vote has not moved to the right to return as second preferences.
According to the sources, the reason that Labor did not run a candidate was “because they knew that Werner would win easily.”
They told Neos Kosmos that Labor’s decision was made late, and after several weeks of damage caused by the Opposition’s campaign on the Commonwealth games.