BILL Tilley says his election as government Whip is a vote of confidence and not a move to shut him up.
The member for Benambra was yesterday clearing his desk at Victoria’s Parliament house and headed to the ministerial corridor — and a pay bonus that will push his annual salary to almost $220,000.
He said he would still be outspoken on important issues, despite the conflict with his new job of rallying Liberal MPs and others to vote on party lines.
Mr Tilley was forced to resign his parliamentary secretary role in late 2011 after the release of a report that condemned his part in an alleged plot to overthrow then police commissioner Simon Overland.
What followed has been almost 18 months of reports suggesting he would cross the floor, was bullied by police minister and Coalition colleague Peter Ryan and confronted former premier Ted Baillieu over those events.
Mr Tilley said he had been encouraged to run for the Whip by party members.
“The previous Whip was appointed to a ministerial role,” he said
“Put simply, it demonstrates the level of faith the party has in me to carry out the functions and duties of Whip.
“It gives me some satisfaction that I have the confidence of the Liberal party — it certainly was no olive branch. It was a decision of the party, voted for by those in the room.
“I think my Liberal parliamentary colleagues see Bill Tilley as a straight-up bloke and approachable.
“Yes, it is more money but, to be honest, I have no idea what it is.
“I’m in the ministers’ corridor but I wouldn’t call it the halls of power — I’m just another cog in the wheel of government.”
Mr Tilley inherits the job whose two most recent predecessors have gone onto ministerial portfolios.
But he said the electorate still came first.
“The electorate work doesn’t change and the only impost is some work in the lead-up to the start of a parliamentary week,” Mr Tilley said.
“I will continue to express, in the proper and appropriate manner, my view on matters affecting the electorate, the state and the party in that order.”
Mr Tilley said his military and police experience would influence his approach.
“You draw on all your life experiences,” he said. “I’m on a steep learning curve but I have the confidence of the party.”