“I don’t accept it at all. No one’s called me about that 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 any new revelations, he said: “I think I’m going to go back to my office and do some work.”
“We’ve got 110 days to [ensure] the most corrupt government in its history gets shown the door.”
Guy is expected to announce a new chief of staff within days, with the former federal Liberal staffer Brad Stansfield joining the field of possible candidates after long-standing Liberal campaigner Simon Frost ruled himself out of contention.
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.
Emboldened by two recent reports from integrity agencies into the conduct of the Labor MPs and staff, the Coalition had planned to hammer the government on integrity matters in the four-month lead-up to the election.
But those plans were derailed when a leaked message from Catlin to Guy’s private Hotmail email account was revealed by The Agealong with a contract the chief of staff had drafted by his lawyers.
The detailed email Catlin’s proposal for Munz, a wealthy horse racing identity, to pay $8333 a month to his private marketing company, Catchy Media Marketing and Management, for services as a contractor. The services were to be described as “supporting business interests”.
Hey MG. Attached is the proposed agreement between [the donor] and Catchy Media Marketing and Management,” Catlin wrote to Guy. “It’s as per the original email agreement between you and me. Can I leave you to forward onto him?”
Catlin resigned within hours of the story going public and has not spoken publicly since. Guy has taken questions but not provided any answers about the specifics of the plan that was proposed, how it came about or why it never eventuated.
The government seized on the opposition leader’s woes, by referring him and his party to a host of law enforcement and integrity agencies over the matter. Victoria Police, the state’s electoral commission, the ombudsman, the Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission and the Australian Federal Police were among those alerted. Those organizations have confirmed they have each received Labor’s complaint but, as yet, none have opened an investigation.
Labor says Guy’s position as Liberal leader is “compromised” and he should be “held to a high standard”.
“Matthew Guy is putting himself up as the alternative premier for the state of Victoria,” Minister for Innovation, Medical Research and the Digital Economy Jaala Pulford told reporters on Friday.
“It certainly appears to me that he is compromised and these are things he needs to respond to, and if he doesn’t, perhaps maybe these are things his colleagues need to respond to.”
Guy has so far refused to answer detailed questions about the scheme, defending himself by arguing the contract was never signed and did not go ahead.
In the face of that scrutiny, Guy tried to turn attention back on the government when door-stopped by media on Friday.
“[The media] should be more focused on the premier’s leadership. The premier is leading the most corrupt government in Victoria’s history. We’ve got 110 days to make sure the state knows that the most corrupt government in its history gets 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 relinquished the job to O’Brien, after a resounding loss at the 2018 election.
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