By Cam Lucadou-Wells
Roads Minister and Narre Warren North MP Luke Donnellan is under fire for telling a female mayor that local roads funding levels were “better than a kick in the dick”.
Mr Donnellan later told Star News that he’d apologised “unreservedly” for the “inappropriate” remark during a meeting with Corangamite Shire mayor Jo Beard.
“I’m a straight talker and I do use colourful language – everyone knows that.
“It was an off-hand comment while making the point that we’ve doubled spending on road maintenance across Victoria after VicRoads budgets were slashed by the Liberals.”
During Parliament question time on 20 February, Mr Donnellan said he’d meant to say “better than a kick in the head”.
This drew the ire of Nationals MP for Lowan, Emma Kealy, who told Parliament that comment was “deeply offensive”.
“To say that it is OK to say ‘It is better than a kick in the head’ when we have got such an issue around violence against women and violence in the workplace and assaults against people within the city and in Victoria – I think it is an entirely inappropriate comment.”
Mr Donnellan withdrew his comment, and didn’t directly answer repeated Coalition questions on how many times he’d had to apologise for bad language as a minister.
Premier Daniel Andrews resisted a call from opposition leader Matthew Guy to sack the Roads Minister.
“As the minister has made clear, he did not intend to cause offence,” Mr Andrews told Parliament.
“He is deeply regretful and has apologised, and I believe that is appropriate.”
Outside Parliament, Gembrook Liberal MP Brad Battin said Mr Donnellan had also shown “blatant contempt” for CFA volunteers raising objections to wire-rope barriers by calling them ‘conspiracy theorists’ and ‘banjo-playing dingbats’.
Mr Donnellan had told Parliament that those comments were directed at Coalition politicians who “ignore the science of wire rope barriers”.
“I certainly do not ignore the advice of people who give their time to protect us.”