CANBERRA – Rod Culleton has been a "pain in the backside" of Pauline Hanson and the relationship between the two former colleagues had irretrievably broken down, but the One Nation leader is "not happy" about the very likely end of his political career.
Culleton, the former One Nation senator for Western Australia is insisting he is not done yet, despite a Federal Court ruling he is insolvent, the Senate President Stephen Parry stating he is officially disqualified and the West Australian Governor Kerry Sanderson readying for a casual vacancy in the senate.
Under the Constitution, a senator's seat is automatically made vacant if they are declared bankrupt.
Any sadness Hanson has does not appear to be for Culleton, more for the controversy he created during his six months in political office.
"Look, am I happy about the demise of Rod Culleton? No, I'm not," Hanson told Channel Nine's Today show.
Rod Culleton has written to the Senate President asking him to withdraw the Senate vacancy. https://t.co/Jj6YmxZpe4— HuffPost Australia (@HuffPostAU) January 11, 2017
"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.
"I've got to move on from there and that's exactly what I'm doing."
The Federal Court ruled last month that Culleton was an "undischarged bankrupt" after he had failed to pay a $280,000 debt to former Wesfarmers director Dick Lester, but he is disputing the ruling and his office has attempted to threaten media outlets reporting on the ruling and outcome.
Culleton's office last night threatened the ABC with legal action for reports describing him a bankrupt and an ex-senator pic.twitter.com/qeiWD1SYTe— Frank Keany (@FJKeany) January 11, 2017
Hanson has tweeted she has a "great person" lined up to take Culleton's position, but would not elaborate on morning television.
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— Pauline Hanson (@PaulineHansonOz) January 11, 2017
The High Court still has to rule on that other matter dogging Culleton; whether he was eligible to stand on July 2 while holding a larceny conviction, even though the conviction was later annulled. The court, sitting as the Court of Disputed Returns may call for a recount which count then give the vacant seat to the second person on the One Nation ticket in WA.
The One Nation leader insists she did not know about the conviction or Culleton's financial problems when he was invited to represent the party, but she would not say whether she regretted recruiting him.
"I thought Rod was going to be a great representative for the people of Western Australia, especially in the farmers who are going through their problems with the banks foreclosing on them," she said.
"That's something that I will continue with and to bring some sort of answers for them. I think that's very important."
"But anyway, it is what it is. I didn't know about the larceny charge and the conviction that was there."
Culleton denies he is bankrupt and has written to the Senate President urging him to withdraw his announcement of the vacancy.
He also wants an early recall of the senate to resolve his status. It is understood this can only happen at the request of government or with the support of the majority of senators.
In the letter to President Parry, Culleton claims he's received "very sound legal advice" that his position as Senator cannot be declared vacant until a 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."
The High Court is due to return at the end of January, while the Senate returns for the first time in 2017 on February 7.
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