Victorian Labor state secretary Chris Ford has asked the AEC to investigate, saying it was “difficult – if not impossible – to believe” Welch’s permanent place of residence was ever in Wallan based on his comments to the media over the past week.
“Some time after that date but before 16 April 2022, Mr Welch moved to a rental property in the electorate of McEwen without his family and considered that the rental property was his permanent place of residence,” Ford said in his letter to the AEC.
“Some time after 16 April 2022, he moved back to his family home in JagaJaga because the house in McEwen … had been sold by its owners. I note that under the Residential Tenancy Act in Victoria, putting a property up for sale or selling a property are not valid reasons for terminating a fixed-term lease agreement early.
“Considering the above, it is difficult – if not impossible – to believe that Mr Welch’s rental property in the electorate of McEwen was ever his permanent place of residence.”
The Liberal Party has been forced to defend another two candidates who have been referred to the federal police to investigate whether they provided false address details to the AEC.
The LNP’s Lilley candidate Vivian Lobo has been accused of not living at the Everton Park home in Brisbane he provided to the AEC as his address, while the Liberal candidate for Isaacs in Melbourne’s south-east, Robbie Beaton, has also been referred to the federal police after admitting to The Age he provided false details to the commission.
The Liberal Party has also referred Labor’s candidate for the NSW seat of Parramatta, Andrew Charlton, to the AEC to probe whether he provided an incorrect address.
Welch is not the first Liberal candidate for McEwen to attract negative attention. In 2016, Chris Jermyn attempted to gatecrash then Labor leader Bill Shorten’s campaign event but was unable to articulate the Coalition’s health policies and then declared his hatred for journalists.
While in 2019, Labor questioned the eligibility of Phillip Fusco, warning he may be a dual citizen because his father was born in the United States. Fusco claimed he did not hold US citizenship because his birth in Australia was not registered with the American government.