POLITICS

Rod Culleton Has Been Disqualified From Parliament After Being Declared Bankrupt

The Senate president has announced a vacancy.

11/01/2017 7:33 PM AEDT | Updated 12/01/2017 3:34 PM AEDT
Fairfax; Alex Ellinghausen

Former One Nation senator Rod Culleton has been officially disqualified from parliament almost three weeks after being declared bankrupt.

Senate President Stephen Parry has informed Culleton and the West Australian Governor Kerry Sanderson that the federal Senate seat is now vacant.

In December, Culleton became embroiled in a series of legal challenges which culminated in him quitting the One Nation party to become an Independent. His relationship with One Nation leader Pauline Hanson broke down.

Days later, the WA senator was declared bankrupt.

Culleton had failed to pay a $280,000 debt to former Wesfarmers director Dick Lester.

A 21-day stay on the bankruptcy order was issued, which is due to end on Friday.

A senator's seat is automatically made vacant if they are declared bankrupt, under section 45 of the Constitution.

On Wednesday evening, Parry released a statement confirming he had received the relevant documents signalling Culleton's bankruptcy.

"I have informed Senator Culleton and notified the governor of Western Australia, her excellency the honourable Kerry Sanderson AC, in accordance with section 21 of the Constitution, that there is a vacancy in the representation of that state as a consequence of the disqualification of Senator Culleton," Senator Parry said in the statement.

"I have also advised party leaders and independent senators of this development."

However, Culleton has denied that he is bankrupt and has written to Senate President Stephen Parry calling on him to withdraw his announcement of the vacancy.

In the letter, he also claims that he has received "very sound legal advice" that his position as Senator cannot be declared vacant until the three week stay placed on it by the court has expired.

"The letter sent by you asserting that I am currently bankrupt and therefore disqualified to sit as a Senator [...] is premature and should be withdrawn immediately," he writes.

"I would also like to inform you that I am solvent and proof of that has been filed and evidence before the court.

"The letter should be withheld or if not withdrawn pending the outcome of the appeal."

Speaking to ABC Radio Perth on Wednesday evening, he said his solvency hangs on his farming profits.

"All farmers take risks every year and until we get the final yield results, I'll know then but certainly still in the game at this stage," he told the radio station.

"I'm not a bankrupt and the media keep putting out that I am a bankrupt, you cannot be bankrupt if you are solvent and I am not insolvent."

However, Rod Culleton's eligibility to even run for the Senate in the first place has also been disputed. If the High Court rules that he was in fact ineligible due to a previous conviction, then he will be disqualified regardless of solvency.

Here is Rod Culleton's letter to Senate President Stephen Parry in full:

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