The chief of staff to Victorian Opposition Leader Matthew Guy has resigned, after reportedly asking a Liberal Party donor to make a $100,000 payment to his private marketing business.
- Mitch Catlin reportedly proposed a contract that would have seen a donor pay more than $8,000 a month to his private company
- Matthew Guy says there are no similar agreements in place within the Victorian Liberals
- The state government has criticized Mr Guy and put out a list of questions directed at him
The Age has reported that Mitch Catlin asked Mr Guy to forward a proposed contract to a donor that would have seen the donor pay more than $8,000 a month to Mr Catlin’s private marketing company, Catchy Media Marketing and Management.
The Andrews government this afternoon said it would refer the issue to the state’s corruption watchdog, as well as agencies including Victoria Police, the Victorian Ombudsman and the AFP.
In response, Mr Guy said he would cooperate with any investigation and looked forward to the state’s integrity agencies “confirming this referral for what it is — an unfounded and desperate political stunt.”
Earlier, Mr Guy said while “there was nothing signed” and he had not passed on the proposed contract, he had this morning accepted Mr Catlin’s resignation.
“I make it very, very clear that I value integrity in government and also in opposition,” he said.
“To that end, my chief of staff Mitch Catlin has this morning offered me his resignation.”
The Liberal leader pledged to establish a code of conduct for opposition staff.
“I accept that as an issue that needs resolution, I will fix that and I will make sure there is a code of conduct for opposition staff as there is, and should be, for government staff,” he said.
Mr Guy said there were no agreements in place within the party that resemble Mr Catlin’s proposed contract.
“We’ll make sure that any issues, even the perception of integrity, is taken seriously. We’re acting on a perception — this wasn’t even put in place,” he said.
MPs call for greater transparency
Labor minister Danny Pearson said Mr Guy needed to “come clean” and reveal his level of involvement.
“Matthew Guy is putting himself up as the alternative premier,” he said.
“He may be the premier by Christmas, and this goes to his credibility.”
The state government has put out a list of 14 questions directed at Mr Guy, asking why the documents have not been released and how the proposed contract would have benefited the donor.
Reason Party MP Fiona Patten said greater integrity was needed in the state’s political system and renewed calls for the urgent introduction of a parliamentary ethics committee.
“We know that the system needs greater transparency and greater integrity,” she said.
“What the major parties do affects us all.”
Addressing media this morning, Shadow Police Minister Brad Battin denied all knowledge of the proposed deal and took aim at the government’s recent issues with integrity.
“We need to make sure that integrity is the highest priority here in this state,” Mr Battin said.
“That includes in the parliament, that includes in your party and that includes trust across the whole sector.”