News State Victoria News Victoria Liberal leader no-show amid donor scandal

Victoria Liberal leader no-show amid donor scandal

political donations
Questions have been raised about Opposition Leader Matthew Guy's knowledge of the donation deal. Photo: AAP
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Victoria’s Opposition Leader Matthew Guy has failed to front media as questions linger over his alleged involvement in a donor scandal.

The Victorian Labor government has asked the state’s electoral commission, police and corruption watchdogs, and the Australian Federal Police, to investigate after Mr Guy’s chief of staff requested a donor pay more than $100,000 to his private business.

The contract was not signed but the staffer, Mitch Catlin, resigned on Tuesday after its existence came to light.

Under parliamentary privilege, Government Services Minister Danny Pearson alleged Mr Guy was involved in a scheme to “donate to the Liberals through sham contracts”.

“It’s up to the authorities to investigate this matter and do their job,” he said.

He said Mr Guy still had questions to answer over the proposal but the Liberal leader instead left it up to opposition government scrutiny spokeswoman Louise Staley to face the music on Wednesday morning.

The Victorian Liberals are “happy” for the scandal to be investigated and will fully co-operate, Ms Staley said.

“There are no payments, there is no bad behaviour because it didn’t proceed,” she told reporters.

The proposed agreement, published by The Age newspaper, would have required the donor to pay Mr Catlin’s marketing company Catchy Media Marketing and Management more than $8000 a month for “supporting business interests”.

The wealthy donor has been identified as Jonathan Munz, the founder of plumbing supplies company Reliance Worldwide Corporation.

Mr Catlin is reported to have sent the contract, drawn up by lawyers, to Mr Guy’s private email address “as per the original email agreement” and asked Mr Guy to forward it to Mr Munz.

He denied forwarding the email but Mr Munz has since confirmed its receipt.

“I do not know how many people received this unsolicited and unwanted email, but when I got it, I rejected it out of hand,” Mr Munz told News Corp.

AAP has contacted Mr Catlin as well as Mr Munz’s company for comment.

Under Victorian law, political donations above $1050 must be disclosed and are capped at $4210 over four years for individuals and organisations.

The Victorian Electoral Commission has launched preliminary inquiries into the allegations political donations were “potentially disguised as alternate payments or funding to political entities”.

“We take the regulation of political donations very seriously,” it tweeted.

Victoria Police confirmed it received Labor’s referral on Tuesday evening and is now assessing it. The Ombudsman declined to comment when contacted by AAP.