Bond for ‘misleading’ Isaacs candidate

Liberal candidate Robbie Beaton was sentenced to a $1000 bond for nominating a false residential address to the AEC.

by Cam Lucadou-Wells

A Liberal candidate in the seat of Isaacs who declared a false home address in breach of Commonwealth law has escaped conviction.

Robbie James Beaton, 56, pleaded guilty at Melbourne Magistrates’ Court to providing false or misleading information to the Australian Electoral Commission ahead of his unsuccessful 2022 federal election campaign.

He had submitted to the AEC that he lived at his family’s former business The Bridge Hotel in Aspendale, rather than his true address in Camberwell – which is well outside the electorate.

He had not lived at the hotel since October 2021.

Prosecutors had argued for a conviction, saying Beaton consciously and deliberately provided the wrong address.

It was not a momentary lapse, since he’d admitted working on the document for a month, they submitted.

Beaton’s defence argued that there was no legal requirement for him to live in Isaacs, so his breach had no bearing on his capacity to stand as a candidate.

There was no “sophistication” or “disguise”, with Beaton exposed after truthfully responding to an enquiring journalist.

His lawyer argued he’d already suffered reputational harm due to significant adverse publicity from the breach.

Beaton was unlikely to be selected as a political candidate as a result.

He had suffered “real punishment” that was likely to deter other would-be offenders, the defence argued.

In sentencing on 7 September, magistrate Rosemary Falla said Beaton met a two-step test for a non-conviction despite the breach being “not a trivial matter”.

She didn’t accept Beaton’s explanation that he had made a mistake due to being “too busy” during the election campaign.

Given the nomination form’s importance, he should have taken the “utmost care”, Ms Falla said.

Giving false information to the AEC could adversely impact the integrity of the electoral system and the “heart of democracy”, she said.

On the other hand, she noted Beaton’s genuine contrition, his early guilty plea, clean criminal record, favourable character references and the impact of a conviction on him.

Beaton was placed on a $1000 bond for two years, plus $158.70 costs.