Print & Visual Communications Association (PVCA) CEO Andrew Macaulay says he had no knowledge that former employee, Marcus Bastiaan, was allegedly also working as a Victorian Liberal Party hard-right branch stacking operative at the same time he was employed by the association.
Bastiaan resigned from the then Printing Industries Association of Australia (PIAA) in late 2018 in the wake of a racist text message scandal that he and another fellow PIAA employee, Paul Mitchell, were implicated in as part of their work for the Victorian Liberal Party.
At the time the story was covered indepth by Sprinter and you can catch up on it here.
Now, Bastiaan has again been embroiled in another scandal which allegedly occurred within the same time period.
This time the allegations are that he operated from 2016 to 2018 – a period that coincided with his employment at the PIAA – as a branch stacking operative within the hard-right ultra-conservative faction of the Victorian branch of the Liberal Party of Australia.
The allegations were aired last Sunday during the 60 Minutes programme on the Nine Network and Bastiaan has since resigned from the Victorian Liberal Party.
Macaulay told Sprinter that during Bastiaan’s nine months with the association in 2018, he was employed as the national business development manager and was responsible for managing the association’s property portfolio and leasing arrangements.
He also confirmed that he personally had no knowledge of Bastiaan’s alleged branch stacking activities.
“We know nothing about it. He was employed by us to run some aspects of our commercial operations which he did very well. I can’t speak to the allegations at all,” Macaulay said.
“I cannot comment about it really because I didn’t know anything about it at the time, nor do I know anything about it now other than what we are all reading in the newspapers.
“It sounds like a squabble between a whole bunch of factions in Victoria’s Liberal Party to me. It’s got nothing to do with us.”
Macaulay said Bastiaan got the job with the PIAA by responding to an advertisement, as any other person would.
“He had performance metrics that he had to work to and the first we were aware of it (the text message scandal) was when he left us,” Macaulay said.
“It’s got nothing to do with the PIAA and these allegations have no relevance to what he did for us.”
The report on 60 Minutes alleged that Bastiaan told taxpayer-funded electorate officers in the office of MP Kevin Andrews to recruit party members to boost factional numbers.
It was also alleged that Assistant Treasurer Michael Sukkar benefited from the plot, although it did not claim that he himself was actively involved in stacking Liberal branches.
In resigning from the Victorian Liberal Party, Bastiaan made the following statement, as reported by the ABC:
“I reject allegations of branch stacking. As the voluntary chair of the Party’s Membership and Training Committee between 2015 and 2018 my role was to recruit and train new members.
“Two years ago, I stepped down from the Party’s Administrative Committee to focus on my family and business. These priorities have not changed.
“Clearly, I have said foolish and stupid things in my twenties. I apologise without reservation to those I have offended, and hope I’ll be wiser and kinder in my thirties.
“The ongoing leaking of years old historic material is an unnecessary distraction for the Liberal Party and it is with that in mind that I have resigned.”
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