Parliament heated after Lyons resignation

Premier Denis Napthine and Jack Lyons last Friday.

Premier Denis Napthine and Jack Lyons last Friday.

HOW IT HAPPENED: Bendigo West Liberal candidate Jack Lyons quits

UPDATE 2.20PM: PREMIER Denis Napthine says it's up to the Bendigo Jockey Club to decide whether it keeps Jack Lyons as a committee member.

Member for Bendigo West Maree Edwards asked the Premier and racing minster about Mr Lyons' future as a committee member during Question Time today.

Dr Napthine said racing and jockey clubs became independent of the government under the previous Labor government and it is up to the club to make a decision.

Bendigo Jockey Club chairman Brendan Drechsler said last night the club is standing by Mr Lyons.

EARLIER 1.30PM: LIBERAL candidate for Bendigo East Greg Bickley has refuted claims made in state parliament this morning that the Liberal Party had been "silent" during the recent mosque debate.

Labor deputy leader James Merlino linked the social media comments made by Jack Lyons with the Liberal Party's approach to the mosque proposal.

Mr Bickley said Mr Merlino's comments were "ill-informed".

"I spoke to the Guardian and the Age about the situation and made my position quite clear," he said.

"I was quite open about the comments I made."

Mr Bickley said the Liberal Party had not stopped candidates from voicing their support for the mosque.

Steven Oliver with Nationals MLC Damian Drum at an event launch last year.

Steven Oliver with Nationals MLC Damian Drum at an event launch last year.

EARLIER 10AM: FORMER Liberal and Nationals candidates Lisa Ruffell and Steven Oliver won't say if they have been approached to replace Jack Lyons as the Liberal candidate for Bendigo West.

Mr Oliver achieved 21.7 per cent of the vote as the Bendigo West candidate for the Nationals in 2010.

He said his response would be "no comment" as to whether he would run for the seat with the Liberal Party.

"I haven't run for 15 years. My knees are no good anymore," Mr Oliver said.

Nationals state director Jenny Hammett last week confirmed the party had "no plans" to run in either Bendigo West or Bendigo East.

Cr Ruffell, who ran in the 2002 state election and rejoined the Liberal Party as a member in 2012, said her response would also be "no comment" at this stage.

She said her commitments with the City of Greater Bendigo meant it was unlikely she would have time for a tilt at state parliament.

Both Liberal and Labor parties have sought to seize on recent ethical controversies during a fiery debate in parliament this morning.

Deputy leader of the Labor Party James Merlino linked the Liberal Party's lack of comment over the Bendigo mosque debate to turning a blind eye to racism.

He used the social media comments from Jack Lyons and former Western Victoria candidate Aaron Lane to reinforce his argument.

Victorian treasurer Michael O'Brien has kept the heat on the Labor Party over the leaked recording of a conversation between a Fairfax journalist and former premier Ted Baillieu.

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