April 24, 2019 19:02:17
The Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) has referred former One Nation senator Rod Culleton’s candidacy for the upcoming federal election to police, to examine if he made a false bankruptcy declaration on his nomination form.
- Rod Culleton was declared bankrupt by the Federal Court in 2016
- The AEC has referred his candidacy for the upcoming election to the AFP
- Mr Culleton’s name will still appear on WA Senate ballot papers
Mr Culleton, who initially sat as a One Nation senator and then an independent after the 2016 election, was among the list of candidates declared by the AEC today for the Senate in Western Australia.
The Federal Court found in late 2016 that Mr Culleton was bankrupt, and as a result his Senate seat was declared vacant.
The High Court also ruled in February 2017 that Mr Culleton had been ineligible to stand as a senator because of a larceny charge in New South Wales.
Due to this previous disqualification by the High Court, the AEC today said it had referred his candidate nomination form for the coming federal election to the Australian Federal Police (AFP).
It has asked the AFP “to examine if a false declaration has been made under provisions of the Criminal Code Act 1995, relating to his status as an undischarged bankrupt and the prima facie disqualification of such persons to be chosen or to sit as a Senator or Member of the House of Representatives under section 44(iii) of the Constitution”.
The AEC added that a search of the National Personal Insolvency Index showed Mr Culleton was currently listed as an undischarged bankrupt.
Ruling won’t keep Culleton off ballot form
Regardless of the AFP investigation, the AEC said that as a declared candidate Mr Culleton’s name would appear on the WA Senate ballot paper at the election.
That was because the AEC did not have the power reject a candidate who had signed the declaration form and paid their $2,000 deposit, and it did not have the power to rule a candidate disqualified.
ABC election analyst Antony Green said issues of disqualification were dealt with after the election by the Court of Disputed Returns.
“The AEC can’t exclude him during the count,” Mr Green said.
“I presume they will do the count as normal. Everyone will examine the entrails of the distribution of preferences afterwards, and if Mr Culleton’s presence is seen as having influenced the result there may be a challenge.
“If he doesn’t influence the result, there’ll probably be no challenge.”