Victorian Premier Denis Napthine has said he would consider any attempt by balance-of-power MP Geoff Shaw to overhaul the state's abortion laws, reports The Age.
Dr Napthine, a Catholic who voted against the decriminalisation of abortion in 2008, said he would assess any move by Mr Shaw - or any other MP - to wind back the existing laws on merit.
He told The Sunday Age he would allow a conscience vote on the issue, which could lead to a replay of the acrimonious scenes of 2008, when Labor and the Coalition split over the issue internally.
When the law finally passed after months of emotive debate, advocates of abortion decriminalisation believed the issue had been settled for good.
But in an interview to mark one year from the next election, Dr Napthine did not rule out helping to overhaul state abortion laws. ''There's a number of ways somebody could act to rewrite that legislation and I would make my judgment on the basis of what was proposed,'' he said.
Napthine's comments come only days after he admitted writing to Mr Shaw advising him how to get legislation drafted to repeal sections of the Abortion Law Reform Act. However, the Premier insisted it was a routine pro-forma letter - not part of a special deal with the controversial MP, whose support he relies on to govern.
But in a move that is likely to inflame tensions within Parliament, Dr Napthine said he would consider any private member's bill pushing for a shift, and ''if any such legislation came forward, members would have a free vote on that''.