The Victorian Liberal Party has accused the Victorian Electoral Commission of “interfering” in the state election and compromising its independence in an unprecedented attack, after it referred Opposition Leader Matthew Guy to the anti-corruption commission this week.
State director Sam McQuestin said the party held deep concerns about the VEC’s recent public commentary on the Liberal donor scandal, including Commissioner Warwick Gately’s comments that investigators had “not received full co-operation from those connected to its investigation”.
“It is the party’s view that these actions constitute a serious, deliberate and unprecedented interference in the Victorian state election,” McQuestin said in a statement.
“I am deeply concerned that, through its actions, the VEC has compromised its own independence and damaged public trust in the electoral process.”
The commission has said it exhausted attempts to fully investigate Guy and his former chief of staff Mitch Catlin, who requested a wealthy Liberal donor make more than $100,000 in payments to his private marketing business, in addition to his taxpayer-funded salary.
Catlin hired lawyers to draw up a contract for the arrangement, then sent it to Guy’s private Hotmail account asking him to “forward onto” the donor, events which were revealed by The Age in August. Guy said he did not forward the contract, which was never executed.
On Friday morning, VEC director of communications and engagement Sue Lang doubled down on the commission’s comments and said no one involved in the saga “satisfactorily responded” to the investigators’ inquiries.
Lang refused to confirm whether Guy had also refused to respond to the VEC’s questions, but said “all the key players from the initial issue were invited to respond to questions”, squarely putting the opposition leader in frame.