Matthew Guy

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Matthew Guy

Matthew Guy.jpg
Leader of the Opposition in Victoria
Elections: 2018
In office
4 December 2014 – 6 December 2018
PremierDaniel Andrews
DeputyDavid Hodgett
Preceded byDaniel Andrews
Succeeded byMichael O'Brien
Leader of the Liberal Party in Victoria
In office
4 December 2014 – 6 December 2018
DeputyDavid Hodgett
Preceded byDenis Napthine
Succeeded byMichael O'Brien
Minister for Planning
In office
2 December 2010 – 4 December 2014
PremierTed Baillieu
Denis Napthine
Preceded byJustin Madden
Succeeded byRichard Wynne
Minister for Multicultural Affairs and Citizenship
In office
17 March 2014 – 4 December 2014
PremierDenis Napthine
Preceded byNicholas Kotsiras
Succeeded byRobin Scott
Member of the Victorian Legislative Assembly
for Bulleen
Assumed office
29 November 2014
Preceded byNicholas Kotsiras
Member of the Victorian Legislative Council for Northern Metropolitan
In office
25 November 2006 – 28 November 2014
Succeeded byFiona Patten
Personal details
Born (1974-03-06) 6 March 1974 (age 45)
Greensborough, Victoria
Political partyLiberal Party
Spouse(s)Renae Guy[1]
Alma materLa Trobe University

Matthew Jason Guy (born 6 March 1974) is an Australian politician. He has been a Liberal Party of Australia member of the Parliament of Victoria since 2006, representing Northern Metropolitan Region in the Legislative Council (2006–2014) and Bulleen in the Legislative Assembly (2014–present). He was Leader of the Opposition in Victoria and state leader of the Liberal Party from 2014 to 2018, when he resigned the leadership after the Liberal Party's landslide defeat in the 2018 Victorian election.


Guy is married with three children. He is of Ukrainian descent; his maternal grandparents left the Soviet Union in 1949.[2] He has a Bachelor of Arts in politics and history from La Trobe University and has completed postgraduate studies in Ukrainian language and culture at Monash University.[3] Guy has said he was not ashamed to say he is a Christian.[4]

Early career[edit]

Prior to entering parliament, Matthew Guy was a ministerial adviser to Liberal Premier Jeff Kennett and to the Assistant Federal Treasurer, Senator Rod Kemp. He was also the Chief of Staff to Denis Napthine during his period as Opposition Leader.[5]

He has also worked for the Victorian Farmers Federation[6] and for the Australian Securities and Investments Commission[3] and is a member of the St Kilda Saints, the South Sydney Rabbitohs, Radio 3RRR and the National Trust of Victoria.[7]

Political career[edit]

Guy was the Liberal candidate for Yan Yean in the 2002 Victorian state election but was not elected. At the 2006 Victorian state election he succeeded as the top candidate on the Liberal ticket for the Northern Metropolitan Region in the Victorian Upper House after which he was soon appointed as Shadow Minister for Planning. Prior to the Brumby governments abortion law reform bill passing the parliament Guy stated that it would be a sad day if the bill became law.[8]

Minister for Planning (2010–2014)[edit]

Guy was re-elected at the 2010 Victorian state election and was subsequently appointed as Minister for Planning.

Ventnor land rezoning[edit]

In September 2011 Matthew Guy, overruled Bass Coast Shire and rezoned a 5.7-hectare farming property at Ventnor, Phillip Island, from farmland into the township making it available for development.[9] The rezoning decision was unpopular with one hundred submissions calling for the town boundaries to be retained while only one submission from the developers supporting the rezoning.[9] Opposition to the rezoning included American singer Miley Cyrus who tweeted to her 2.5 million followers that "Phillip Island is such a magical place, it would be a shame to see it change".[10]

Days later, Guy reversed his decision, advising the Bass Coast Mayor, Veronica Dowman, that he had changed his mind.[11] It is believed that Guy succumbed to backroom pressure from Liberal heavy-weights (including local federal Liberal MP Greg Hunt, Victorian Premier Ted Baillieu and his deputy, Louise Asher) when he back-flipped on his original decision to rezone the land.[12] The developer behind the rezoning, Ms Carley Nicholls, claims to have received a favourable hearing from Matthew Guy when she briefed him on the scheme at a "kitchen table meeting" in her home months before he controversially approved it.[13] Nicholls purchased the property based on the rezoning decision and subsequently sought to sue Mr Guy and have his original rezoning decision reinstated.[13] In defence Guy stated in court documents, that he acted in error in rezoning the land but had relied on the advice of ministerial staff. He says he overturned his decision after learning that the Bass Coast Shire Council opposed the extension of town boundaries at Ventnor. Guy denied discussing the Ventnor project with Ms Nicholls or even knowing of her interest in the property.[13]

Legal proceedings terminated in August 2013 with a multimillion-dollar out-of-court settlement with taxpayers footing the bill.[14][15] In October 2013, the Victorian ombudsman George Brouwer decided to launch an investigation to address Guy's decision to rezone the Ventnor site, against the original advice of his department, the department's lawyers, the local Bass Coast shire and an independent planning panel.[14] The settlement cost Victorian taxpayers $2.5 million plus costs, for a total of more than $3.5 million, documents reveal. Senior lawyers had told the government that it should have paid a maximum of $250,000 plus legal costs. Confidential Government documents show Mr Guy ordered the multimillion-dollar payment despite repeated legal advice from a number of senior lawyers that the government had a strong case, and there was little or no grounds for a damages claim against it. "This may be winnable @ law but this is a political fight and it is unwinnable," Mr Guy is quoted as saying in confidential notes made by the Victorian Government Solicitor's Office in July 2013.[16]

In early 2014, Guy overruled his department to block the release of freedom of information documents about the botched rezoning of farmland on Phillip Island.[17] In March 2014, Mr Brouwer found that Mr Guy was ultimately responsible for the rezoning decision and that he had refused to hand over important documents requested as part of his investigation[18] However, Mr Brouwer also found that Guy was unaware that his advisers were acting in his name when asking for the planning department to change its advice.[18]

High-rise building approvals[edit]

During his tenure as Planning Minister, Matthew Guy became known for approving a large number of high rise buildings apartment towers in the CBD and Southbank, and for rezoning swaths of land at Fishermans Bend, Footscray and North Melbourne for high-rise development. Developments over 25,000 square metres in total developed area within the CBD and Southbank had long been the responsibility of the Minister for Planning rather than the City of Melbourne, and with the growth of larger apartment developments in the central city in the early 21st century, more and more towers fell into this category. In early 2010 the then Labor Government set up the Central City Standing Planning Committee with representative from Council and State Government to advice on these applications, but in December 2010 it was disbanded by the new Coalition Government and not replaced despite it being Coalition policy.[19][20]

By March 2013, Guy had issued approvals for numerous tower projects in central Melbourne, while rejecting only one.[21]

One project Mr Guy did not approve and instead intervened to stop was an 88-metre apartment tower at 35 Albert Road, where he imposed height controls. Doing so protected the views to the bay enjoyed by some of Melbourne's richest business people, including active Liberal Party supporters, MP Andrea Coote and former Howard minister Peter Reith, from a nearby tower.[21]

In March 2013, Guy announced that he had approved plans for the tallest tower in the southern hemisphere – Australia 108 – with a height of 388 metres, 90 metres higher than Eureka Tower. This approval drew criticism from the Melbourne Lord Mayor Robert Doyle who was concerned the building would cast a shadow over the Shrine of Remembrance, and from planning academic, Professor Michael Buxton, who referred to Guy as "Mr Skyscraper."[21][22]

In February 2014 Guy approved five large apartment developments on what he dubbed as "Super Tuesday". They included a 'pencil thin' 55 storey tower at 464 Collins Street, a 63-storey, 632-unit tower on A'Beckett Street near Elizabeth Street, and a 55 storey tower of 466 apartments at 398 Elizabeth Street.[23]

In June 2014, Australia 108 was approved for a second time with a height reduction after Fairfax Media revealed the building violated federal air safety regulations for Essendon Airport.[24]

At the same time Guy approved a 75-level tower at 452 Elizabeth Street, and a 54-storey building at 84–90 Queensbridge Street, with reasons he gave being that with Australia 108 they would provide homes for 4000 people, and "Building more apartments in the city takes population pressure off quieter suburban areas,"[24]. Opposition planning spokesman Brian Tee said the minister, by approving so many skyscrapers so quickly for Melbourne's CBD, was displaying "a complete disregard for the impact these developments are going to have" over a 15- or 20-year period[24].

Wind farm laws[edit]

Before the 2010 state election, the then Liberal–National opposition announced plans to restrict wind farm developments across Victoria, within two kilometres of homes and in the vicinity of regional towns. On 29 August 2011, Minister Guy delivered on this commitment through approval of Amendment VC82 to the Victoria Planning Provisions, prohibiting new wind turbines within two kilometres of homes unless there is written consent from the homeowner.[25] VC82 also introduced no-go zones for wind farms in the Yarra Valley, Dandenong Ranges, Mornington Peninsula, Bellarine Peninsula, Great Ocean Road region, the Macedon and McHarg Ranges, and the Bass Coast.[26][27]

The Coalition government has been criticised for offering little in the way of explanation for no-go zones, the locations of which align with announced projects, extended family members of the former Premier, and land owned by Liberal Party heavyweights.[28] The new planning laws have been criticised by academics on the basis that they: entrench fossil fuel generation in the state, make it harder for Victoria to move towards renewable energy, put local above global concerns and treat wind as more dangerous than coal.[29] Industry has also expressed concern about impact of the wind laws on jobs and investment, as has the State opposition.[30] Wind turbine tower manufacturer, Keppel Prince has threatened to move parts of the business interstate.[31] The Clean Energy Council said the change would cost hundreds of new jobs in regional areas and drive $3.6 billion of investment away from Victoria.[32][33]Pacific Hydro stated that they are not looking at new greenfield developments in Victoria and Windlab Systems stated that the Government's planning laws had "gone too far" and the company was moving all staff to Canberra[33][34]

It was reported that the former Premier, Ted Baillieu's office had a direct role in preparing the wind farm planning laws for Guy's implementation.[28] Baillieu has opposed wind energy since the early 2000s raising concerns about the approval of projects at Portland in western Victoria and the Bald Hills proposal in Gippsland. He has referred to wind turbines as "towering triffids" and referred to then Premier Bracks as a "coastal vandal" and as someone who avoided visiting the Toora wind farm out of fear of being "lynched".[35][36]

On 6 March 2013 Denis Napthine became Premier of Victoria. Denis Napthine's electorate is home to the largest wind farm in the southern hemisphere[37] and also hosts wind turbine tower manufacturer Keppel Prince.[38] Napthine has indicated there would be no change to Guy's wind energy planning laws,[39] despite the significant economic benefits to the Premier's electorate and the current Premier's personal admiration of wind turbines.[40] Bloomberg New Energy Finance has stated that the wind laws "could push up the price of electricity for consumers by around $2 billion. This is because the Victorian laws essentially will make it harder and more expensive to build renewable energy."[34]

In July 2014, Guy announced a small adjustment to the planning laws allowing existing wind farm permits to be amended, which may assist with upgrading turbine technology.[41]

Opposition leader (2014–2018)[edit]

In 2014, Guy successfully contested the Legislative Assembly seat of Bulleen, although the Liberal–National coalition was defeated at the same election after just a single term in government. Former Premier Denis Napthine stood down as Liberal leader following the election loss.

Guy was elected as leader of the Liberal Party in a leadership ballot contested on 4 December 2014, making him Leader of the Opposition after defeating Michael O'Brien for the position.[42][43][44]

Comparing jails to South Africa[edit]

In January 2017, following a riot in which several juvenile inmates escaped from a correctional facility, Guy criticised the state government by remarking several times that "This is a government who is standing by and allowing Melbourne to become the Johannesburg of the South Pacific."[45] These comments attracted attention from the governing party of South Africa, the African National Congress, which released a statement describing Guy's comments as "unfortunate". The statement also said "These comments are regrettable, and feed into lazy stereotypes of African cities as crime havens. They serve to tarnish the reputation of the City of Johannesburg – known widely as the gateway to Africa; and regularly cited amongst several indices as world-class city".[46][47] After the Australian High Commission in South Africa distanced itself from Guy's comments, he responded by stating "I am more interested in solving Victoria's crime wave than responding to press releases from South Africa's left wing ANC political party".[48]

Tony Madafferi controversy[edit]

Mathew Guy and Tony Madafferi first crossed paths in 2013 when Guy, the then Planning Minister in the Liberal Party government, was a special guest at a fund-raising event in Docklands at a venue Madafferi co-owned. Guy claimed to have had no knowledge Madafferi was at or hosting the event. Senior Labor politician Luke Donnellan didn't accept this and accused the Liberals in the Victorian parliament of taking "blood money… stained with misery and crime".[49] In August 2017, media outlets reported that Guy attended a dinner with Tony Madafferi, owner of the La Porchetta pizza chain, who has been accused in court by police of being a high-ranking member of Melbourne's Calabrian Mafia.[50] Guy's office confirmed his attendance, but denied the meeting was secret or that Guy was aware of Madafferi's presence until he arrived, although secretly recorded phone conversations appeared to contradict these statements. According to the recordings and other sources, the meeting was allegedly organised to be for the purpose of raising funds for Guy in his role as Leader of the Opposition.[51] A day later, Guy had referred himself to the Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission (IBAC), saying he was confident he would be cleared of any wrongdoing,[52] but IBAC said it did not have the power to investigate.[53]

Because Guy was seen eating a lobster at the meal, the affair became known in the Melbourne press as "Lobster with a Mobster".[54] Guy's claim that those who attended the dinner had not given donations was contradicted by one of the dinner's guests, Frank Lamattina, while attending an event for Hastings MP Neale Burgess.[55]

Good Friday pairing incident[edit]

On 29 March 2018, the day before Good Friday, the Legislative Council debated the Andrews government's Fire Services Bill which would see the merger of Victoria's metropolitan and regional firefighting services into a single body, and grant presumptive rights for cancer compensation to firefighters. As the debate went on, Liberal MLCs Craig Ondarchie and Bernie Finn requested leave for religious reasons due to Good Friday observance, and were each granted a pair. When the bill was put to the vote, Ondarchie and Finn returned to the chamber and voted against it, defeating it 19 votes to 18. On 3 April, Guy defended this apparent breach of parliamentary convention, saying the "means were absolutely justified", that he had ordered their return, and was proud that their actions had saved the Country Fire Authority (CFA).[56]

State election loss[edit]

Guy led the party to a disappointing showing at the November 2018 state election. The Liberal/National Coalition suffered large swings against it and lost several seats in Eastern Melbourne to the Labor Party. Guy's campaign focused chiefly on curbing crime in parts of Melbourne as well as seeking to shift population growth in Melbourne to regional Victoria, though this strategy failed to increase the Liberal vote in the state. Ultimately, the Coalition suffered an 11-seat swing, falling to only 27 seats. Guy resigned as leader of the Liberal Party on 28 November 2018.[57]

External links[edit]


  1. ^
  2. ^ Tomazin, Farrah; Gordon, Josh (2 March 2013). "Man with a plan". The Age. Retrieved 31 July 2018.
  3. ^ a b "Matthew Guy – About". Matthew Guy MP. Retrieved 2 August 2018.
  4. ^ Cook, Henrietta (29 October 2018). "Coalition vows to reinstate religious instruction in state schools". The Age.
  5. ^ Masanauskas, John (6 March 2013). "Planning Minister Matthew Guy a strong performer". Herald Sun. Retrieved 16 September 2017.
  6. ^ Sullivan, Kath (17 February 2016). "Matthew Guy's rural growth push for Victoria". Weekly Times. Retrieved 2 September 2018.
  7. ^ "Matthew Guy, Member for Bulleen". Liberal Victoria. Retrieved 26 September 2018.
  8. ^ "Abortion Bill faces struggle in Victoria". 16 September 2009. Retrieved 2 August 2018.
  9. ^ a b "Coastal Council minister at odds" in The Age, 16 September 2011
  10. ^ "Miley add anger to Phillip Islanders' fury" in The Age, 21 September 2011
  11. ^ "Planning minister reverses Ventnor zoning decision", ABC, 22 September 2011. Retrieved 4 February 2014
  12. ^ "Minister sued for planning backflip", in The Age, 20 January 2012
  13. ^ a b c "The minister, the landowner and the rezoning backflip that is heading to court", in The Age, 26 June 2013
  14. ^ a b "Watchdog to probe Guy's botched land rezoning", in The Age, 16 October 2013
  15. ^ "Taxpayers foot multimillion dollar legal bill after settlement in case against Liberal Planning Minister Matthew Guy", in The Herald Sun, 20 August 2013
  16. ^ Millar, Royce; Vedelago, Chris (3 September 2018). "Matthew Guy paid out millions to keep his job: documents". The Age. Retrieved 26 September 2018.
  17. ^ "Planning Minister Matthew Guys blocks the release of Ventnor rezoning documents", in The Age, 20 January 2014
  18. ^ a b "Ombudsman slams government over its botched Phillip Island Ventnor rezoning", in The Age, 27 March 2014. Retrieved 30 March 2014.
  19. ^ The Victorian Liberal Nationals Coalition Plan for Planning Retrieved 30 March 2014
  20. ^ Dowling, Jason (16 December 2010). "Planning committee canned". The Age. Retrieved 23 May 2018.
  21. ^ a b c "Planning expert blasts legacy of Mr Skyscraper" in The Age, 19 March 2013
  22. ^ Green, Shane (6 April 2013). "Mr Skyscraper should try to keep his feet on the ground". The Age. p. 22.
  23. ^ "Matthew Guy approves five new residential towers for Melbourne CBD". The Age. 25 February 2014. Retrieved 23 May 2018.
  24. ^ a b c Lucas, Clay (26 June 2014). "Matthew Guy approves thousands more apartments for Melbourne CBD". The Age. Retrieved 2 August 2018.
  25. ^ Media Release. Premier of Victoria "Coalition restores community’s rights on wind farm planning", 29 August 2011
  26. ^ "Amendments VC82 and VC91 Changes to wind energy facility provisions" (PDF). Department of Planning and Community Development. July 2012. Archived from the original (PDF) on 30 March 2014. Retrieved 2 August 2018.
  27. ^ Victoria Planning Provisions, Retrieved 14 March 2014
  28. ^ a b "Against the Wind", in The Age, 31 March 2012
  29. ^ "Regulating wind farms out of Victoria", The Conversation, 7 September 2011
  30. ^ Brian Tee Media Release, 19 September 2011
  31. ^ "Portland's Keppel Prince fears wind farm changes", in The Standard, 31 August 2011 30 March 2014
  32. ^ "Baillieu's Wind Farm Crackdown", in The Age, 30 August 2011
  33. ^ a b Evans, Phil (20 February 2014). "What is the real cost of Ted Baillieu's wind energy policy?". Friends of the Earth Melbourne. Retrieved 2 August 2018.
  34. ^ a b "Concerns new guidelines are forcing wind farms out of Victoria". The World Today ABC. 17 February 2012. Retrieved 2 August 2018.
  35. ^ Parliament of Victoria Hansard, 26 August 2004
  36. ^ Parliament of Victoria Hansard, 27 August 2003
  37. ^ "Macarthur wind farm". AGL. Retrieved 2 August 2018.
  38. ^ "Welcome". Keppel Prince. Retrieved 2 August 2018.
  39. ^ "Napthine happy with wind farm regulations", in Climate Spectator, 15 April 2013
  40. ^ "I love them but we can't have them everywhere. Premier on Wind Farms", in The Sydney Morning Herald 12 April 2013
  41. ^ Cimara, Doutre (23 July 2014). "Wind companies question planning office response". The Weekly Times. Retrieved 2 August 2018.
  42. ^ Smethurst, Annika (4 December 2014). "Matthew Guy defeats Michael O'Brien in Liberal leadership ballot". Herald Sun.
  43. ^ Willingham, Richard; McKenzie, Nick; Baker, Richard (17 February 2017). "Victorian Liberals: factional fight exposes deep divisions". The Age.
  44. ^ Tomazin, Farrah (10 December 2016). "Newbury knuckles down in blue-ribbon Brighton after Liberal preselection stoush". The Age.
  45. ^ Davey, Melissa (25 January 2017). "Malmsbury detainees escape from justice centre after allegedly stealing car, police say". The Guardian.
  46. ^ "African National Congress on derogatory comments directed at South Africa by the Leader of the opposition in Victoria, Australia". African National Congress. 26 January 2017. Retrieved 2 August 2018.
  47. ^ "ANC irked by Australian MP's remark about 'crime-infested' Johannesburg". The Times Live. 26 January 2017. Archived from the original on 2 February 2017. Retrieved 2 August 2018.
  48. ^
  49. ^ "The Mafia, the mountains and the art of holding your tongue". The Age. 8 August 2017. Retrieved 28 November 2018.
  50. ^ "Victorian Opposition Leader secretly dined with alleged Mafia head Madafferi". ABC News. 8 August 2017. Retrieved 8 August 2017.
  51. ^ "Vic Opposition Leader's dinner claims called into question by secret tapes". ABC News. 8 August 2017. Retrieved 8 August 2017.
  52. ^ "Matthew Guy refers himself to anti-corruption commission". ABC News. 8 August 2017. Retrieved 8 August 2017.
  53. ^ "Matthew Guy: IBAC won't investigate lobster dinner with alleged mafia boss". ABC News. 31 August 2017. Retrieved 31 August 2017.
  54. ^ "Matthew Guy's 'lobster with a mobster' scandal attracts investigation". News Corp. 10 August 2017. Retrieved 17 January 2018.
  55. ^ Baker, Richard; McKenzie, Nick; Carey, Adam (9 August 2017). "Matthew Guy's lobster dinner host was also at a $2000-a-head Liberal fundraiser". The Age. Retrieved 2 August 2018.
  56. ^ Preiss, Benjamin (3 April 2018). "'Means were justified': Matthew Guy defends breaking of pair deal". The Age. Retrieved 4 April 2018.
  57. ^ "Matthew Guy resigns as Victorian Opposition Leader after Liberals' election battering". ABC News. 28 November 2018.
Victorian Legislative Assembly
Preceded by
Nicholas Kotsiras
Member for Bulleen
Political offices
Preceded by
Justin Madden
Minister for Planning
Succeeded by
Richard Wynne
Preceded by
Daniel Andrews
Leader of the Opposition of Victoria
Succeeded by
Michael O'Brien
Party political offices
Preceded by
Denis Napthine
Leader of the Liberal Party in Victoria
Succeeded by
Michael O'Brien