Back in 2017, the Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission (IBAC) decided against investigating Guy’s lobster dinner determining the catch-up didn’t fall within its jurisdiction.
But Guy went on to suffer a humiliating defeat at the 2018 poll which the Victorian Liberal Party’s own review to the enormous damage caused by that infamous meal at a Beaumaris restaurant. He found the scandal was used repeatedly and effectively to “damn him”.
“In the environment of 2018 it was not necessary to fully articulate let alone authenticate the case, it was enough to allege and thus badge it strongly in voters’ minds,” the found.
With 16 weeks until the election, that should sound alarm bells for the Coalition.
There is a risk that the latest untidy affair will cause voters to add it to the mountain of baggage Guy already carries. From controversial planning decisions, to rolling Michael O’Brien. It’s likely to all add up.
Labor, which has amassed an impressive portfolio of scandals since coming to office, is unlikely to benefit electorally from the opposition’s woes. Instead, political strategists believe the saga will fuel a wider perception that the major parties are both up to no good and push voters to search for another option.
If the federal election is to be any guide, such a scenario will have a bigger impact on the Liberal Party which is so far at greater risk from independent candidates who purport to be holier than thou and will campaign on a pledge to clean up politics.
Guy and many of his supporters are trying to deflect from the drama by focusing on the source of the leak, and any possible reasons for it.
As a political strategy, such a diversion may boost internal moral, but there is a risk that Liberal MPs let the myth set in that this scandal has been unfairly imposed on Guy and not a mess of his own making.
Guy may be frustrated that his integrity has been called into question over a contract which he insists was never executed. Particularly when his political rivals, have been caught using public money to pay for election campaign staff, rampant nepotism, attempts to interfere with government grants and dogged by expenses scandals.
But protesting that the leak or any subsequent probes are unfair is a political red herring and masks the abysmal judgment that led to these scandals.
Five years later even Guy’s biggest fans question his decision to go to the Lobster Cave with an alleged mobster, particularly when he wanted to run a law and order campaign.
As one former Liberal MP said yesterday: “I never thought it was a problem that he went to the dinner, it was the fact that when he got there and realised what was happening, he failed to leave.”
The latest scandal again raises questions about Guy’s integrity and judgment.
If, as Guy insists, the deal didn’t go ahead, why did he accept the resignation of his chief of staff? And if, as an email seen by The Age indicates, Guy was aware of the proposed contract why did it take him 10 months to act?
At best, Guy is a victim of his own carelessness. But in both cases he let ambition or ignorance cloud his political judgment.