Lorraine Finlay writes in The Conversation (12.1.17) about the decision to disqualify former One Nation senator for WA, Rod Culleton, from his seat in the federal Senate. The author argues that the saga still has some way to go before its conclusion, but that it is almost certain Culleton will not be able to retain his place as a senator.
‘The ongoing legal controversies surrounding Western Australian senator Rod Culleton – described by a Federal Court judge as “something approaching a carnival, if not a circus” – took a new turn on Wednesday. Senate President Stephen Parry made the constitutional step of notifying the WA government of a Senate vacancy due to Culleton’s disqualification following a long saga over his eligibility to sit in the upper house.
‘Culleton’s disqualification comes after Parry received formal notification of Culleton’s status as an undischarged bankrupt.
‘Even before the 2016 election results were formally declared, questions were being asked over whether Culleton was actually eligible to be a senator. Since that time, two key constitutional issues have emerged.
‘… Even if he successfully appeals the sequestration order and the Court of Disputed Returns rules in his favour, Culleton still faces further constitutional hurdles. Another creditor’s petition is yet to be heard by the Federal Court, and a stealing charge is listed for trial in Perth in September 2017. These could each result in Culleton being constitutionally precluded from sitting as a senator.
‘From a constitutional perspective, however, it is critical that the correct grounds for disqualification are established. This will affect how a replacement senator is chosen.’