Prominent local Liberal Josh Manuatu has been drawn into the saga involving Energy Minister Angus Taylor and allegedly doctored documents.
A newspaper report named Mr Manuatu, who chairs the Canberra Liberals' finance committee, as allegedly responsible for obtaining and distributing false figures about the City of Sydney's travel expenses.
The report, in The Australian, has not been confirmed, but Labor made hay with it in the Senate on Wednesday, linking it with a controversy in 2014 when Mr Manuatu worked in Senator Eric Abetz's office and was accused of massaging jobs figures. That charge was denied by Senator Abetz's office at the time.
NSW Police are investigating the origin of the fake documents which Mr Taylor used to attack the council's travel spending. The document Mr Taylor relied on said the council had spent more than $15 million on domestic and overseas travel in 2017-18, but the figures were incorrect. Mr Taylor claimed the figures came from the council's annual report on its website but that has been debunked.
Mr Manuatu won't be leaving Mr Taylor's office amid the allegations, according to reports. Raised in Goulburn, Mr Manuatu is a former president of the ACT Young Liberals and the federal Young Liberals.
Canberra Liberals president John Cziesla was not aware of Mr Manuatu's alleged involvement in the doctored documents saga until he read the newspaper report. Mr Cziesla said the allegations wouldn't be investigated by the branch, but declined to make any further comment.
In the Senate on Wednesday evening, Labor linked the Taylor affair with the 2014 jobs controversy.
"Was there any link between the dodgy figures that former Minister Abetz's office tried to massage into existence and dodgy figures that emerged from Minister Taylor's office?" Labor's Murray Watt asked in the Senate.
"Who within former Minister Abetz's office was responsible for this behaviour? Senators will be shocked to learn that it was none other than this same staffer, Josh Manuatu."
Mr Manuatu has made no comment. Nor has Mr Taylor's confirmed any involvement from Mr Manuatu, with Senator Watt basing his attack on the newspaper.
"Where did Mr Manuatu obtain the dodgy figures that appeared in the forged version of the City of Sydney report?" Senator Watt asked. "What did he tell Minister Taylor about the origin of those figures? Has he told Minister Taylor that he sourced these dodgy figures?"
Senator Watt said Mr Manuatu "is no bit player in the loony right wing of the Liberal Party", as president of the federal Young Liberals, a member of the federal executive of the Liberal Party and the finance chairman of the ACT Liberal Party.
"Indeed, there are rumours that Mr Manuatu is seeking high office as the director of the ACT Liberal Party, with the blessing of ACT Liberal senator Zed Seselja," he said, turning his attack on Senator Seselja.
"It is very disappointing that Senator Seselja has still not learned to be careful about the company that he keeps. During his brief, and otherwise unremarkable, tenure as leader of the Canberra Liberals, Senator Seselja made some very ill-advised choices as to the company he kept."
He referred to Liberal Party staffers operating a "vile and offensive" fake Facebook page purporting to be the official page of then ACT deputy chief minister Katy Gallagher.
"I call on Senator Seselja to assure the Senate that he will play no role in helping the now notorious Josh Manuatu become the director of the ACT Liberal Party as another attempt to look after a mate who's got himself caught up in a scandal to save his minister."