Opposition Leader Matthew Guy says his former chief of staff never signed a contract with any donors to provide funds in addition to his taxpayer-funded salary.
Mitch Catlin resigned on Tuesday after The Age revealed he requested billionaire Liberal donor Jonathan Munz pay more than $100,000 to his private marketing business. Munz said when he received the email “he rejected it out of hand”.
Mitch Catlin has resigned as chief of staff for Matthew Guy (inset).Credit:Tash Sorensen
When asked if he could categorically rule out that Catlin signed any deals with other donors, Guy said: “Yes.”
Documents show Catlin hired lawyers to draft a contract for the arrangement, then sent it to Guy, asking he “forward [it] onto” Munz. The proposed contract contained a clause saying it would be terminated if Catlin left the role of chief of staff to the opposition leader.
“Hey MG. Attached is the proposed agreement between [the donor] and Catchy Media Marketing and Management,” Catlin wrote to Guy’s private Hotmail address. “It’s as per the original email agreement between you and me. Can I leave you to forward onto him?”
Guy said he did not forward the email to the donor. No payment was made and no contract was signed, he said.
Guy said Catlin stood down to “maintain the perception of integrity”.
“Mitch stood down because we want to maintain the perceptions are right, that there is nothing that could be incorrect, even though nothing was signed, nothing agreed,” Guy said.
“[It’s] totally different from the government who rorted and stole and thieved. I will not be lectured to by some corrupt government.”
The opposition leader refused to answer detailed questions about the integrity crisis engulfing his party less than four months from the state election, saying he would not comment because the government had referred the matters to integrity agencies and Victoria Police.
The Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission on Thursday said it had received a complaint from the government.
“Every complaint IBAC receives is assessed in accordance with the IBAC Act to determine whether we will investigate it, refer it to another organisation for investigation, or dismiss it,” an IBAC spokesman said.
“IBAC will be making no further comment on this matter at this stage.”
Premier Daniel Andrews refused to be drawn on his government’s complaints to the integrity agencies, but senior government minister Danny Pearson said Guy needed to “answer fundamental questions about what’s occurring in his office”.
He called on Catlin to release an audited copy of Catchy Media Marketing and Management’s financial statements to make public what, if any, payments he was receiving.
“Since 2014 when Matthew Guy first became leader of the opposition, he’s portrayed himself to be the prince of probity, yet he cannot or will not answer fundamental questions about what’s occurring in his office,” Pearson said.
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