THE Australian Electoral Commission, AEC, has confirmed it is investigating potential irregularities with Liberal candidate for McEwen Richard Welch’s electoral enrolment details.
Mr Welch listed a Wallan address when he submitted his nomination form last month, but currently resides at a property in the Melbourne suburb of Viewbank in the electorate of Jagajaga, which he contested in the 2019 federal election.
Mr Welch said he had rented a property in Wallan while his family continued to reside at the Viewbank property, but his lease at the Wallan property was terminated when the property was sold.
He said he listed the Wallan address on his nomination form as it was not possible for someone to update electoral enrolment details until they have lived at an address for at least one month.
Mr Welch denied any wrongdoing.
“At all times I have fully complied with AEC electoral laws and strongly reject any suggestion otherwise,” he said.
“At the time of signing and lodging my nomination form I was living in Wallan.”
The Age reported Mr Welch had owned the Viewbank property since August 2021 and that it was his only property.
The AEC confirmed it was aware of Mr Welch’s circumstances and would investigate accordingly.
“We are aware of the reports about the candidate’s declaration. As with any matter brought to our attention that may relate to the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918, we will review the circumstances,” an AEC spokesperson said.
“As with other similar matters, if the circumstances dictate that this matter be referred to the AFP [Australian Federal Police] for investigation then that is what we’ll do.”
Member for McEwen Rob Mitchell called for Mr Welch to be transparent about whether Wallan was ever his permanent residence.
“Richard Welch needs to come clean about what is happening here. The people of McEwen deserve to know the truth,” he said.