News State Victoria News Charity CEO suspended for Frydenberg flyer

Charity CEO suspended for Frydenberg flyer

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Guide Dogs Victoria CEO Karen Hayes has been stood down over a flyer supporting Josh Frydenberg.
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Guide Dogs Victoria’s chief executive has been stood down after endorsing Treasurer Josh Frydenberg in a series of pre-election material.

Karen Hayes was featured in a flyer and promotional video posted on social media backing Mr Frydenberg as the member for Kooyong ahead of the May 21 poll.

When made aware of the material last week, the charity’s board confirmed it had not approved it and requested its immediate removal from circulation while launching an internal investigation.

On Tuesday, Guide Dogs Victoria confirmed Ms Hayes had been stood down from her role, pending the probe’s outcome.

“The independent investigation is underway and is ongoing. The purpose of the investigation is to understand what happened and ensure it never happens again,” it said in a statement.

The flyer and promotional video were authorised by Mr Frydenberg’s Hawthorn East office, in compliance with electoral laws.

However, charity groups are bound by regulations enforced by the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission and can be stripped of their status if unable or unwilling to rectify serious breaches.

The ACNC reminded charities of their obligations less than a week before the Ms Hayes’ comments came to light.

A spokesman for Mr Frydenberg said the decision to stand Ms Hayes down was “extremely disappointing”.

“Ms Hayes has been a highly effective and widely respected CEO of Guide Dogs Victoria for more than a decade. In this time, she has significantly strengthened the organisation, its finances and community outreach,” they said.

Ms Hayes also appeared in a similar promotional video for Mr Frydenberg before the 2019 federal election, with the Morrison government giving Guide Dogs Victoria $2.5 million the following year to upgrade its facilities.

Mr Frydenberg is under pressure to retain his blue-ribbon seat in Melbourne’s inner-east, with “teal” independent candidate Monique Ryan mounting a strong challenge.

– with AAP