The Australian Election Commission has referred an investigation into potential election fraud involving the Liberal candidate for the Victorian seat of Isaacs to the Australian Federal Police.
The Labor Party alleges Robbie Beaton willfully broke election laws to further his political career.
The AEC investigated an erroneous address provided by the candidate in his pre-screening and pre-registration forms for voter fraud.
On his official website, Mr Beaton describes himself as “a long-time local business owner, Robbie and his family have been 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 the family of his wife the Doyles, from 1984 to 2020.
Labor said Mr Beaton had not lived at that address for many years and lived outside his constituency in Camberwell.
The AEC referred the matter to AFP for further investigation.
“Following the nomination of Mr. Beaton’s candidate for the 2022 federal election, we have reviewed the statements made on Mr. Beaton’s registration and nomination forms,” the AEC said.
“There are concerns whether the information provided by him regarding his residential address on these forms is false.”
On Friday, Labor deputy leader Richard Marles told reporters in Sydney that this was a very serious matter.
“(Prime Minister) Scott Morrison needs to get this clear today because pre-election begins on Monday, postal votes are already in people’s hands and maintaining the highest standards of integrity in the public service is absolutely essential,” he said.
According to the AEC’s website, “Registration fraud occurs if a voter makes a false application for registration, such as using a false name or address.”
Under Commonwealth Elections Law, a candidate is not required to be registered within the boundaries of the electorate they are contesting, but candidates must be registered at their residential address.
According to Campaign Central, Mr Beaton and his wife have been registered to vote at Mordialloc’s address since 2017.
Mr Beaton told The Age he occasionally stayed in a flat in the pub after finishing work late.
But the new owners say there is no accommodation at the pub, and there hasn’t been for at least a decade.
“Choosing the Bridge Hotel for the voters list is not an inadvertent violation, but a deliberate violation of the law to advance his political career, perpetuated to trick Isaacs voters into believing he is a local,” said the Labor Party.
The AEC said the nominations for Isaacs must remain as they were officially declared on April 22.
“Balots have been printed and distributed nationwide for early voting to begin on Monday and many mail-in voters have already received their mail-in ballot packs,” the AEC said.
Isaacs’ seat is held by shadow Labor attorney general Mark Dreyfus by a 6.4% margin.
Australian Associated Press