Guy of He’s Gone
Victorian Liberal Party members and MPs are unfairly questioning whether Matthew Guy is hiring former State Director and convicted criminal Damien Mantach to what is being described as the ‘ignominious’ role of Chief of Staff to the Leader of the Opposition.
A barrage of criticism has been leaked to the media about the appointments of both Nick McGowan and Mitch Catlin. The position was without controversy under Scott Pierce, but the appointment to the role by a previous forgotten Leader of the Opposition of Brett Hogan was the beginning of the current controversies.
Since the lockdowns of 2020–21, the office of Chief of Staff has come into public attention, no longer a quiet bureaucratic role upstairs in a Spring Street shop, the new chiefs of staff have been getting all kinds of publicity.
Consider Mitch Catlin, a colourful, self-promoting wannabe celeb. Mitch had spent his time sucking up to Josh Frydenberg, David Southwick and Matthew Guy. It paid off.
Catlin – or ‘Catty’ as he is known for his vicious gossip, coffee addiction and Obama-style selfies – seemed to think that his role was to promote his own business interests rather than those of the Liberal Party.
Various MPs felt Catlin’s blade in their backs and many rumours have circulated party headquarters about Catlin ‘making Sam his bitch’. Enterprise Victoria, the main fundraising body of the party, was also being run by Catlin, as he sought to defibrillate donation income.
Catlin’s money interests including the upcoming Melbourne Commonwealth Games, marketing research for the Liberal Party and the media-insiders pipeline to jobs in the Liberal Party have all been dealt a terminal blow.
Catlin used a donor contact list from Enterprise Victoria to reach out to potential ‘high rollers and generous tippers’ to plug much needed holes in the upcoming State Liberal campaign budget bucket.
But alas, Catlin was caught with his hand in the till, not only soliciting large donations through his own business for the Liberal Party but also skimming off his own fees before the money would be available for party use.
Party members applaud the brave work of one Assange-like individual whose motivations included desire for revenge against Catlin, the fact that Catlin was breaking the law and especially because he was secretly siphoning off funds without Matthew Guy’s knowledge. Many think it was the only right course of action to reveal this to a responsible member of the media.
Catlin was fired and Matthew Guy went on to appoint Nick McGowan to the role. Sadly, this appointment has attracted severe criticism as McGowan has just won a preselection for a gig in the Upper House.
For the first time in history, a candidate MP is being hired through the taxpayer funded Opposition Office to effectively run the campaign in Victoria. It is well known within party circles that the 2014 election was run by the staff of then Premier Denis Napthine, while the 2018 election was run by Scott Pierce, Ryan Smith and Michael Kroger with Nick Demiris looking in from the outside.
At the North-Eastern Metropolitan Region preselection, McGowan said that he would be quitting his lucrative job at the Australian Appeals Tribunal. It has been unfairly suggested that McGowan was not going to quit his role there until close to the State election, as members have pointed out that Catlin’s sudden departure and McGowan’s offer of the role forced him to actually serve notice to the AAT.
Other potential candidates for the role included Nick Tragas, Brad Stansfield, Simon Frost, Caroline Inge, Inga Peulich, Rachel Carling-Jenkins-Watt, Roshena Campbell and Ben Reeson. No one should fault Matthew Guy for wanting to appoint a loyal friend rather than someone who could turn out to be a significant pea under his mattress.
Because Mitch Catlin is now being investigated by VICPOL and IBAC, the current and temporary chief of staff Nick McGowan has sought to lay down fundraising guidelines to ensure no one is caught again trying to bypass the strict Victorian political fundraising laws.
One MP came out in defence of Matthew Guy stating that winning elections is more important than internal party politics. They went on to point out that the party had a real problem with right wing fundamentalist females running for the Upper House.
It is understood that significant party factional leaders are now cooperating in calling for Matthew Guy’s removal, though wiser heads have indicated that, in the words of one senior MP, ‘we will have to stick with the devil we know and ignore all polls’.
‘The whole saga has turned into a soap opera,’ said a well known party identity. ‘Incest in the Leader’s office is just the latest plotline in the ratings game.’
‘If McGowan steps down as candidate for North-Eastern, I would like to see Donna Hope given a chance to serve in Parliament again,’ said another disgruntled party member.