newsCO.com.au–Under pressure Matthew Guy singles out key fundraiser Barrie Macmillan

August 12, 2017

Liberal leader Matthew Guy says party official Barrie Macmillan should no longer be involved in fundraising activities for the party as the fallout continues from revelations Mr Guy dined with alleged Mafia figures in April.

Liberal MPs insist they have not lost confidence in their leader, who now faces the biggest test of his political career. 


‘Matthew knew exactly who was coming’

A secret recording of Liberal fundraiser Barrie Macmillan suggests Matthew Guy was well aware of who was going to be at the now-infamous lobster dinner.

But Mr Macmillan’s career appears to hang in the balance after it emerged in secretly recorded phone calls he discussed an offer to make undisclosed donations from alleged Mafia figures Tony Madafferi and others to the Liberal Party.

“I think that he will move on and I think that would be the right thing to do,” Mr Guy said.

“I’ll talk to the state president about what we’ll do today.”

Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton told 3AW he had been assured the recordings had not been made by Victoria Police.

“We’ve done the necessary checks on our end and what’s come back is nothing we’ve recorded is among what’s being reported on this particular matter,” he said. 

“If there was an illegally made telephone intercept, that’s a breach of the telephone act and that’s a federal offence. That would constitute a crime if it was recorded illegally.”

Mr Guy earlier on Wednesday reiterated his position that he did not know that Mr Madafferi would be at the Lobster Cave dinner in April, and that political donations were not discussed.

“No donations have been forthcoming to the party and if one individual – one individual – has sought to solicit something that’s up to him to answer,” Mr Guy said.

Victorian Liberal Party president Michael Kroger later told 3AW that Mr McMillan did inform him of the dinner but he was not told Mr Madafferi had been there. 

Mr Kroger said nobody who attended the dinner had given any donations above the disclosure threshold to the Liberal Party. He said he had no knowledge of the dinner guests making donations beneath the threshold but conceded there were no records for small sums at, for example, local fundraisers. 

Mr Kroger said he told Mr McMillan donations could not be given directly to politicians. “I would have said to him anyone donating money to the party above the threshold has to be public. I would have this conversation everyday with people that ring up and say ‘I want to donate money to the party’,” he said. 

Mr Kroger stood by Mr Guy, saying he would be leading the party at the 2018 election. “Matthew Guy is one of the most honest people I’ve met in public life,” he said.

Senior Coalition MPs including shadow roads minister Ryan Smith, shadow energy minister David Southwick​ and Kew MP Tim Smith all said Mr Guy had their full support.

“I behind him 1000 per cent,” Tim Smith said. “He has my absolute support and he’s doing a fantastic job.”

Mr Southwick said Mr Guy had his full support.

“Matthew Guy has made his comments very clear here in terms of what has gone on. The situation really is that we need to get on with the real issues that matter in Victoria,” he said.

The secretly recorded phone calls contradict Mr Guy’s statements that he had no idea that he was meeting Mr Madafferi at the Beaumaris lobster restaurant earlier this year and that the dinner was not a secretive affair.

Mr Macmillan states on one recording that he personally briefed Mr Guy’s office about Mr Madafferi’s presence at the dinner, and stressed the need to keep the meeting confidential.

Shadow Attorney General John Pesutto​ said his party was “united” behind the embattled Liberal leader. 

“Everyone is right behind Matthew. We are a very cohesive unit … we are focused on giving the Victorian people a real choice in the next election.”

Mr Pesutto called for the “full transcripts” published in Fairfax Media to be “publicly released”. 

“I would like to know what was contained in those conversations and who the parties to it were.

“Because what we’ve got at the moment is we’ve half a transcript, we’ve got half a conversation, so I hope that the journalists involved at The Age would consider releasing that.”

Liberal MP Bernie Finn, a leading figure on the conservative wing of the party, said he would stand behind Mr Guy whom he described as “safe as houses”.

A flurry of Labor politicians spoke to media at the steps of Parliament House on Wednesday morning, claiming Mr Guy’s credibility had been seriously damage by Fairfax Media’s revelations.

Public Transport Minister Jacinta Allen said Mr Guy’s story had “more holes in it than a block of Swiss cheese” and called on the opposition leader to “release all documentation related to this matter”.

Police Minister Lisa Neville said the revelations “questioned his [Mr Guy’s] judgment and his ability to lead the state.

She said she was “confident” that police had not leaked the tapes. 

Minister for Innovation Phil Dalidakis asked: “Has the Liberal Party become a front for money laundering? Is the Liberal Party engaged in gross deception? Is the Liberal Party attempting to conceal organised crime activities?”

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