John Pesutto - Leaving to come back?

John Pesutto has embroiled himself in a political dogfight with Moira Deeming over an issue which should not have last beyond a couple of weeks. She had only attended a rally – which had empirical problems for some ‘progressive’ liberals.

Being so far off from the 2026 election, it had no real potential to cause any electoral damage at the ballot box. The leader and the party had so much time and so many levers to re-calibrate, post the noise of ‘a liberal attending a rally, hijacked by neo-nazis’ in March 2023.

Rather than delivering a kneejerk reaction, ‘ordinance’ (of sorts) against the member, John Pesutto locking himself into a position publicly, things could have been handled with political dexterity once the hallmark of the Liberal party.

But that was then. Both John Pesutto and Moira Deeming are locked in a legal battle over the comments made around that event and unless commonsense prevails, the tragic-comedy will play out in the witness box in September, where, the good, well-meaning and passionate leader, John Pesutto will most likely be singing from the last verses of his political song book, if not already ousted.

The media is reporting that two of the other protagonists on that event, Kellie-Jay Keen-Minshull and Angie Jones are also likely to launch defamation proceedings against John Pesutto, adding a little bit more to the already wanton political drama facing John Pesutto, which is most of his making on poor forethought or advice.

After two of his key lieutenants – Nick Johnston (Director of Communications) and Rodrigo Pintos Lopez (Chief of Staff), left, there were rumors of potential challenge to John Pesutto’s leadership.

And now with added lawsuits, the pundits read ‘added’ strain on Pesutto’s position.

I can read the detractors seeing this as additional ammunition to put pressure on John Pesutto in the tactical, internal party play, but it will be foolhardy for anyone to put their hand up now.

Particularly, the distance to November 2026 is long, arduous and unpredictable. And the team is new, with untried, aggressive, organized and willing to do the hard yards faces, but with not much on the scoreboard.

There is no doubt, supporters of Moira Deeming would like to add pressure (on John Pesutto) of these additional lawsuits if they are filed (today as I write this piece).

In my view these additional lawsuits do not carry any political peril to John Pesutto, at least no more than he himself allows the Moira camp bring to bear on him.

Also read: How Sky news proves my case – should John Pesutto expel Moira Deeming?

They do add to the nuisance value and additional workload on his legal team, no more, no less.

Many politics watchers believe a spill is unavoidable. It will either happen before the budget to give the Coalition some clear air to take on the Allan government or in September when he faces the humiliation of a defamation court case.

From the Liberal party’s perspective, there is merit in either scenario.  

My view is slightly different. I believe, the court case has to be avoided at all costs. Thus, John Pesutto should do all he can – even if it means begging his colleagues – to strike a deal with Moira Deeming to avoid the September trial.

It will not only be a win for Moira Deeming, it will be a huge political win for John Pesutto as well.

If that outcome is unachievable, to save his political career and come back as a leader later, he should give a serious thought to stepping down – to clear his name.

Rather than being pushed over, stepping down now on to serve the party’s best interests, reserves him the opportunity to come back stronger, to lead the party later.

Yes, there is one downside to it and that is – the crowdfunding for his legal battle will somewhat be scuttled as people tend to lose interest in you (and your problems) if you are not in a potential position of leadership.

John Pesutto is a good man and a passionate for Victoria politician. Having met him a number of times, I believe seeing him go, will be a loss. But if we lose him not to come back will a tragedy. And many of his colleagues know it.

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