Culleton loses position as senator

Jan 11, 2017

Independent senator Rod Culleton has lost his spot in the Senate after he was declared bankrupt by a Federal Court judge.

Senate president Stephen Parry has informed Mr Culleton and WA governor Kerry Sanderson there is a vacancy because the former One Nation member has been disqualified from the position as he is an "undischarged bankrupt".

Senator Parry also advised party leaders and independent senators of the development.

"It is a necessary and automatic consequence of the declaration of bankruptcy of a serving senator, that his place as a senator becomes vacant," Senator Parry said on Wednesday.

But the Court of Disputed Returns is still to determine whether Mr Culleton was eligible to be selected as a senator in the first place as he had been convicted of a larceny charge, which was later annulled, at the time of the federal election last 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," Senator 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 either the next candidate on the One Nation ticket, Mr Culleton's brother-in-law Peter Georgiou, or the party can nominate a replacement.

"If a casual vacancy is declared because of Rod Culleton's disqualification I have already chosen a great person to replace him in the Senate," One Nation leader Pauline Hanson tweeted on Wednesday night.

Mr 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 2009 property acquisition deal that soured.

He has repeatedly denied he is bankrupt and, through his adviser on Wednesday, Mr Culleton declined to comment to AAP.

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

He was involved in a scuffle earlier this month with Anthony Fels, a former state Liberal MP and now a member of One Nation, outside Perth Magistrates Court after appearing over a restraining order taken out by his wife against Mr Culleton's former friends Bruce Bell and Frank Bertola.

Mr Culleton ran away when he was confronted by Mr Fels, who tried to serve him with some documents, and tripped over a friend, falling heavily.

The 52-year-old took himself to Royal Perth Hospital and was cleared of a broken wrist, but fronted the media the next day wearing a splint and claimed he was the victim of a "hostile, very callous attack".

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