“I do not accept it at all. Nobody has called me about it and I don’t believe they will,” Guy told reporters.
Asked if he would stand aside for the good of the party if the controversy escalated with new revelations, he said: “I think I will go back to my office and do some work.”
“We have 110 more days [ensure] the most corrupt government in its history is being shown the door.”
Guy is expected to announce a new chief of staff within days, with former federal Liberal staffer Brad Stansfield joining the field of possible candidates after longtime Liberal campaigner Simon Frost ruled himself out.
Stansfield, a former chief of staff to Tasmanian Premier Will Hodgman, previously worked for Tasmanian Senator Eric Abetz and more recently for Federal Finance Minister Matthias Cormann.
Encouraged by two recent reports from integrity agencies in the behavior of Labor MPs and staff, the Coalition had planned to hammer the government on integrity issues in the four months leading up to the election.
But these plans were derailed when a leaked message from Catlin to Guy’s private Hotmail email account was revealed by The agealong with a contract drawn up by the chief of staff by his lawyers.
The email described Catlin’s proposal to Munz, a wealthy horse racing personality, to pay $8333 a month to his private marketing firm, Catchy Media Marketing and Management, for services as a contractor. The services were to be described as “supporting business interests”.
“Hello MG. Attached is the proposed agreement between [the donor] and Catchy Media Marketing and Management,” Catlin wrote to Guy. “That’s per the original email agreement between you and me. May I let you forward to him?”
Catlin resigned hours after the story was published and has not spoken publicly since. Guy has taken questions but given no answers about the details of the plan that was proposed, how it came about, or why it never came to be.
That the government seized upon the sufferings of the opposition leader, by referring him and his party to a host of law enforcement and integrity agencies on the matter. Victoria Police, the state Electoral Commission, the Ombudsman, the Independent Broad-Based Anti-Corruption Commission and the Australian Federal Police were among those alerted. These organizations have each confirmed they have received Labour’s complaint, but none has yet launched an investigation.
Labor says Guy’s position as Liberal leader is “compromised” and he should be “held to a high standard”.
“Matthew Guy is running as the alternative premier for the state of Victoria,” Innovation, Medical Research and Digital Economy Minister Jaala Pulford told reporters on Friday.
“It certainly looks like he’s compromised, and those are things he needs to respond to, and if he doesn’t, maybe those are things his colleagues need to respond to.”
Guy has so far refused to answer detailed questions about the proposed arrangement, defending himself by claiming the contract was never signed and did not go ahead.
In light of that investigation, Guy tried to turn the spotlight back on the government when the media was stopped by the door on Friday.
“[The media] should be more focused on the premier’s leadership. The Premier presides over the most corrupt government in Victoria’s history. We have 110 days to ensure that the state knows that the most corrupt government in its history is being shown the door,” he said.
Guy has been Liberal leader for the past 10 months after ousting Michael O’Brien last September. He was previously in the role for four years from 2014, but handed the job to O’Brien after a resounding loss in the 2018 election.
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