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Culleton to fight on after Senate dumping

Politics

A defiant Rod Culleton is vowing to fight his removal from the Senate and has lodged an appeal against the decision that declared him bankrupt.

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The former One Nation member turned independent officially lost his seat in parliament following confirmation of last month’s Federal Court ruling.

Senate president Stephen Parry on Wednesday informed Culleton and WA governor Kerry Sanderson there was now a vacancy because of his disqualification.

But Culleton, in reply to Parry, said the decision was premature and should be withdrawn immediately.

It should, at the very least, be withheld pending the outcome of a court appeal.

Late on Wednesday, he filed a notice of appeal in the WA registry of the Federal Court against Justice Michael Barker’s decision to declare him bankrupt.

He also submitted an interlocutory application, which effectively seeks to put a hold on the ruling pending the outcome of the appeal.

Furthermore, he has suggested taking legal action against Parry, claiming an application will be filed in the High Court on Thursday “regarding another matter concerning yourself and that in the event you as the president refuse to withdraw the letter, I may be left with no option but to join you in the High Court application”.

Meanwhile it’s unclear who will replace the dumped senator.

The Court of Disputed Returns is yet to determine whether Culleton was eligible to be selected as a senator as he had been convicted of a larceny charge, which was later annulled, at the time of the federal election in July.

“It will be necessary for the Court of Disputed Returns to deliver its answers to the referred questions before it will become apparent how the vacancy may be filled,” Parry said.

It will be reported to the Senate when it meets on February 7.

Depending on the court’s decision, the vacancy will be filled by the second person on the One Nation ticket, Culleton’s brother-in-law Peter Georgiou, or the party can nominate a replacement.

One Nation leader Pauline Hanson said if a casual vacancy were declared, she had already chosen a “great” person to replace him.

“I’m not disclosing at this moment who it would be,” she told the Nine Network today.

“We have got to wait for the full determination of the courts.”

Hanson said she was not happy about the decision on Culleton but had moved on.

“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’s what it is.”

Culleton had been ordered to pay former Wesfarmers director Dick Lester $205,536 in 2013 (which has since increased to $280,000) over unpaid rent relating to a $13.2 million property deal that went sour in 2009.

He has repeatedly denied he is bankrupt.

Culleton was elected in the July federal election as a representative of Pauline Hanson’s One Nation but resigned in December from the party.

– AAP

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