The Victorian Liberals have been in what my mother would call “the wars” in recent years. First, they were booted from Spring Street after just one term in office — something that had not occurred in the Garden State for half a century. Then it was discovered that the party’s state director, Damien Mantach, had been defrauding the party of much-needed campaign dollars during 2014 — 1.55 million of them, in fact. More recently, state leader Matthew Guy — who is in striking distance of the premiership this November — managed to get caught lunching with an alleged organised-crime figure, Tony Madafferi, a revelation that hit the media just as an advertising blitz put Guy’s face on posters right across Melbourne. Now, an internal stoush over a party-linked investment fund, the Cormack Foundation, threatens to spill into open court.
Cormack, a key source of funding for the Victorian Liberals, hands over more than a million dollars to the party every year. At least, it did until last winter, when its board decided to turn the tap off. The party, and particularly state president Michael Kroger, is fuming, asserting the foundation is supposed to be managing funds for the Liberals. The board disagrees, declaring itself entirely independent. Both sides have lawyered up and are preparing for a fight to the death in the full glare of the press, nine months out from a state election. Like I said — the wars.
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