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Vic govt caught in Libs lobster scandal

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August 11, 2017

Victorian deputy premier James Merlino says he's been threatened with legal action.

It's Victorian opposition leader Matthew Guy's so-called 'lobster with a mobster' scandal, but it's the deputy premier who could be in hot water.

James Merlino has used parliamentary privilege on Thursday to reveal lawyers for alleged crime boss Tony Madafferi had sent him two letters claiming defamation over comments he made on the controversy.

Mr Madafferi was at an April dinner with Mr Guy at the exclusive Lobster Cave restaurant, organised by the former's cousin and Liberal member Frank Lamattina.

Mr Madafferi is widely accused of being a high-level organised crime figure, but he has never been charged or convicted.

Mr Merlino told parliament he "will not be silenced ... will not be intimidated" by the letters, that demand a retraction, apology and payment of legal fees to avoid further legal action.

Mr Guy says he did not know Mr Madafferi, a successful market garden and pizza chain owner, would be at the Lobster Cave dinner until he arrived.

He insists the dinner meeting was to discuss fruit and vegetable markets and not political donations.

However leaked phone calls made by Liberal figure Barrie MacMillan suggest the meeting was designed to direct donations to the cash-strapped party.

On Thursday Mr Guy said he had a "keen interest" in political donation reform and would be happy to debate it.

The Greens have been calling for real-time disclosure of political donations and want the government to also commit to donation reform.

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