The Australian Electoral Commission has referred a potential electoral fraud investigation into the Liberal candidate for the Victorian seat of Isaacs to the Australian Federal Police.
The Labor Party alleges Robbie Beaton wilfully breached electoral laws to further his political career.
The AEC has been investigating an incorrect address provided by the candidate in his preselection and pre-enrolment forms for electoral fraud.
On his official website, Mr Beaton pitches himself as “a long-time local business owner, Robbie and his family have been a part of the Isaacs community for over 20 years”.
In the forms, Mr Beaton claims to live at the Bridge Hotel in Mordialloc, a pub run by his wife’s family the Doyles, from 1984 to 2020.
Labor said Mr Beaton had not lived at this address for many years and had been living outside his electorate in Camberwell.
The AEC has referred the matter to the AFP for further investigation.
“Following Mr Beaton’s candidate nomination for the 2022 federal election we have reviewed the declarations made on Mr Beaton’s enrolment and nomination forms,” the AEC said.
“There is concern as to whether the information provided by him regarding his residential address on these forms is false.”
Labor deputy leader Richard Marles told reporters in Sydney on Friday that it was a very serious matter.
“(Prime Minister) Scott Morrison needs to clarify this issue today because pre-poll begins on Monday, postal votes are already in people’s hands and maintaining the highest standards of integrity in public office is absolutely essential,” he said.
According to the AEC website, “enrolment fraud occurs if an elector makes a false claim for enrolment, for example using a false name or address”.
Under the Commonwealth Electoral Act, a candidate is not required to be enrolled within the boundaries of the electorate they are contesting, but candidates are required to be enrolled at their residential address.
According to Campaign Central, Mr Beaton and his wife have been enrolled to vote at the Mordialloc address since 2017.
Mr Beaton told The Age he would occasionally stay in an apartment within the pub after finishing work late.
But the new owners say there is no accommodation at the pub, and there has not been for at least a decade.
“The choice of the Bridge Hotel for the electoral roll is not an inadvertent breach, but a wilful breach of the act to further his political career, being perpetuated to con the voters of Isaacs into thinking he is a local,” Labor said.
The AEC said nominations for Isaacs must remain as they were formally declared on April 22.
“Ballot papers have been printed and distributed across the country for early voting to begin on Monday and many postal voters have already received their postal voting packs,” the AEC said.
The seat of Isaacs is held by Labor shadow attorney-general Mark Dreyfus by a margin of 6.4 per cent.
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