Rod Culleton’s last-ditch effort to stay in the Parliament

10/08/2019 Posted by admin

Senator Rod Culleton outside the High Court. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen Rod Culleton with One Nation leader Pauline Hanson. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen
Nanjing Night Net

Former senator Rodney Culleton has mounted an eleventh-hour effort to save his parliamentary career, seeking to appeal the Federal Court decision that rendered him bankrupt and demanding Senate President Stephen Parry immediately withdraw his declaration of a vacancy.

“I’ve still got my senator’s badge on and I’m going to my senator’s office,” he said on Thursday after a judge extended a 21-day stay on his bankruptcy order for a further week.

Senator Parry notified the West Australia Governor on Wednesday that a seat had become vacant. But, as he fights a legal war on multiple fronts, Mr Culleton has written to Senator Parry calling his actions “premature” because of the stay which was not due to expire until midnight on Friday.

His latest hearing, followed by a sometimes rambling press conference, came after West Australian Premier Colin Barnett said the state’s parliament would not be brought back before the March 11 state election to ratify a replacement senator.

Mr Culleton said Senator Parry had “jumped the gun” and repeated his claim not to be bankrupt.

“The government’s been starting up all their lawn mowers to come and mow my grass in Western Australia. It is clear they have to put them back into the shed,” Mr Culleton said.

He clashed with the media about whether his answers made any sense, reminding one journalist she was not a lawyer.

How the former One Nation senator is replaced will hinge on a pending High Court decision that is determining whether Mr Culleton was eligible to be elected at the July election in the wake of a larceny conviction, which has since been annulled.

The High Court returns from recess on January 30, after which the body – sitting as the Court of Disputed Returns – will be able to hand down its ruling. This could be delayed by Mr Culleton’s attempts to appeal the bankruptcy decision, which was the result of a creditor, former Wesfarmers director Dick Lester, pursuing $280,000 in debts.

If the High Court ruling renders him ineligible, a recount would likely hand the seat to the former senator’s brother-in-law, Peter Georgiou, who was the second One Nation candidate on the ballot. If the High Court ruling leaves the the bankruptcy as the cause of the vacancy then One Nation will select his replacement.

If it is the latter, Senator Hanson says she has a “great” person lined up.

“Am I happy about the demise of Rod Culleton? No I’m not,” she told told Channel Nine. He left her party in December after the pair fell out.

“This has been a debacle what’s happened and I’m not happy about that at all and I didn’t want it to happen for the people of Western Australia. But it is what it is.”

The unrelated Senate vacancy resulting from the resignation of Family First senator Bob Day, who retired to deal with his collapsing business empire, is also due to be resolved by the High Court.

A Court of Disputed Returns decision on his eligibility for election – arising from potential indirect pecuniary interests prohibited by the constitution – will occur after a preliminary hearing on January 23 and a full court sitting on February 7. This is the same day Parliament returns for 2017.

Mr Culleton remains defiant.

“What has clearly been put before the honourable court is that I am not insolvent.

“We’ve come out with a good order today, and that’s what the law is about, fair and just,” he said.

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