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Victorian Liberals’ election campaign in disarray

Victoria – Australia Today

The Victorian Liberals’ election campaign is again under a cloud with a string of senior staff being sacked in a major bloodletting ahead of November’s poll.

Deputy state director Scott Samson was among a string of officers forced out of the party last week, amid a major restructure.

One senior figure described the bloodletting as “imposed repair” after years of chaos.

Senior campaign adviser Ashley Mackinnon was demoted, while several electorate campaign officers have also been booted.

The Herald Sun has been told many candidates and MPs had been openly ignoring party directives and running their own campaigns.

“Six weeks out from polling day and the wheels are completely careering off the campaign,” one senior Liberal said.

“MPs are out there fighting their own battles now and basically ignoring the mess that is HQ and who can blame them.”

In the wake of the party’s 2018 election disaster a Liberal Party review blamed internal warfare, financial difficulties, dodgy polling, and a failure to sell a clear message to voters.

On the day of the election, 17 per cent of voters did not know who leader Matthew Guy was, while the federal party coup against Malcolm Turnbull was also blamed.

“Some people are already saying you can look at the report into 2018, change the cover, and have it ready for 2022,” another senior source said.

“There are already threats that state director Sam McQuestin will be gone a day after the election.

“It’s certainly not a smooth functioning campaign, there’s no doubt about that.”

Party officials believe they can turn the campaign around, and believe that an expected backlash against Daniel Andrews over his pandemic management will be fierce.

However, there is angst over a failure to properly develop policy or field candidates well in advance of the election.

Senior party figures said there had also been complaints that Mr McQuestin and deputy campaign manager Brad Stansfield had been flying home to Tasmania too often.

They believe the turmoil within the party has been longstanding, and hoped the major shake-up would resolve ongoing issues.

It comes weeks after opposition leader Matthew Guy’s chief of staff Mitch Catlin resigned following revelations he asked a party donor to donate more than $100,000 to his private business.

The proposed contract would have seen Mr Catlin’s Catchy Media Marketing and Management company paid more than $8000 each month by the donor, in addition to his taxpayer-funded salary.

An email leak revealed the mooted arrangement, that is now under investigation by the Victorian Electoral Commission.

 

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