West Australian Rod Culleton is officially not a senator anymore, after the High Court ruled he was not validly elected and must be replaced.
The court ruled Culleton's conviction on larceny charges at the time of the election disqualified him from office. The constitution states anyone convicted of an offence punishable by a prison term of a year or longer is not eligible for election, which includes Culleton's charge after stealing a car key in 2014. The conviction was later annulled in August 2016, but the High Court ruled that because he was under the charge at the time of the election in July 2016, he was ineligible for election.
The former One Nation senator had already been stripped of his Senate seat, after the Federal Court declared him bankrupt in December. Culleton had appealed, but on Friday afternoon he also lost his appeal against the Federal Court's ruling.
The High Court judgment in the Culleton matter is online https://t.co/LgaRL5nuax— Australian Senate (@AuSenate) February 2, 2017
"By reason of s 44(ii) of the Constitution, there is a vacancy in the representation of Western Australia in the Senate for the place for which Senator Rodney Norman Culleton was returned," the High Court said in its judgement.
"The vacancy should be filled by a special count of the ballot papers."
It was ruled that his replacement in the Upper House must be decided by a 'special count', a recount of the votes cast at the July election.
This count will not be decided for some time but it is likely his brother-in-law Peter Georgiou, who was second on the ticket for One Nation -- the party Culleton formerly represented, before leaving after a spectacular bust-up with leader Pauline Hanson -- will take Culleton's spot.
Culleton has previously vowed to serve as Georgiou's chief of staff if he was struck out of the Senate.
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