Victorian Opposition Leader Matthew Guy has publicly rebuked an outspoken Liberal MP for calling the state's police force a "despot's militia".
In a Facebook post on Wednesday night, upper house MP Bernie Finn criticised police after firing tear gas and other non-lethal rounds at a mob of protesters during a tense stand-off at Melbourne's Shrine of Remembrance.
"I have always been a staunch supporter of the men and women of Victoria Police. I can't extend that support to the modern incarnation of the despot's militia. It horrifies me," he wrote.
Shadow attorney-general Tim Smith and opposition police spokesman Brad Battin openly disagreed with the Western Metropolitan MP, with the latter saying his views did not represent the party.
In one of his first major tests since toppling Michael O'Brien as Victorian Liberal Leader earlier this month, Mr Guy declined to say if Mr Finn would face any repercussions, including asking him not to run for preselection ahead of the 2022 state election.
Instead, the newly elected state party leader said he had spoken with Mr Finn and would deal with the matter internally.
"There are no second chances for any of my colleagues to create these kinds of disturbances," he told reporters on Thursday.
"I don't have any tolerance for people on my side talking down, or being perceived to be talking down, Victoria Police in the job they're doing at the moment."
Mr Finn has repeatedly stoked online controversy, posting pro-Trump conspiracy theories and a meme about a Chinese rocket falling on the ABC or his political rivals, as well as describing Premier Daniel Andrews in an indecent position with a goat.
He also refused to stand for parliament's acknowledgement of country in 2019, and in 2014 said rape victims should not be allowed to have an abortion.
Asked how many more chances Mr Finn would be afforded, Mr Guy said: "'I'm not going to be dealing with it again, put it that way."
He does not agree with Mr Finn's latest comments and expects Victoria Police officers and their families to be treated with respect by all his parliamentary colleagues.
"They have had a very tough job during the pandemic. They have been treated appallingly by sections of the community over the last few days," Mr Guy said.
"Victoria Police put everything on the line for us."
In a statement following party backlash, Mr Finn defended his stance.
"I have been contacted by a number of serving police officers in recent days deeply distressed about the direction the Andrews government and chief commissioner have taken Victoria Police. I share their distress," he said.
Australian Associated Press