Guide Dogs Victoria will look into why its top executive was seen promoting Treasurer Josh Frydenberg in his inner-Melbourne seat of Kooyong in Liberal Party election pamphlets.
The organization’s board urged Frydenberg to stop spreading the brochure as soon as it became aware of it, knowing that the charities commissioner had warned against promoting political candidates and parties in the upcoming federal election on May 21.
“Time and time again, Josh has shown his genuine care for Guide Dogs Victoria and the people with low vision and blindness we serve,” the flyer quoted Hayes saying.
Ms Hayes thanks the Treasurer in the social media video for assisting the charity with a $30 million restoration of its Kew headquarters.
“He gives us guidance and connects us with people in the community, or within government, that we need to talk to to make change,” Ms Hayes said.
A message at the end of the video confirmed it was “authorised by Josh Frydenberg”.
In a statement, the organization said its board “had no prior knowledge of the distribution of this information and does not approve it.”
“The board has launched an internal investigation and requested that this material be immediately removed from circulation,” the statement said.
“The board of Guide Dogs Victoria fully understands the concerns that have been raised by members of the community and from our supporters about this matter.”
On Wednesday morning, the video was taken from the Treasurer’s page.
Ms Hayes had already appeared in Mr Frydenberg’s campaign materials while representing Guide Dogs Victoria.
Prior to the 2019 election, she participated in a Liberal Party-approved ad in which she stated that Mr. Frydenberg “genuinely cares for people.”
Other registered charities, such as Relay for Life and Breast Cancer Network Australia, were also represented in the film.
Charitable organisations will be banned if they “promote or oppose a political party or candidate for political office,” according to the Australian Charities and Not-for-Profits Commission (ACNC) website.
Charities are authorized to lobby for changes in law and policy, which is frequently seen when parliamentary proposals are up for debate or when government budgets are released.
Commissioner Gary Johns of the ACNC declined to comment on Ms Hayes’ activities or whether or not an investigation was underway.
He did say, though, that promoting political candidates was not allowed.