News National Rod Culleton loses position as senator weeks after bankruptcy ruling
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Rod Culleton loses position as senator weeks after bankruptcy ruling

Rod Culleton
A Federal Court declared Rod Culleton was bankrupt in December. Photo: ABC
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Former One Nation turned independent WA senator Rod Culleton has lost his spot in the Senate, following a bankruptcy decision.

The President of the Senate has written to the Western Australian Governor saying there is a vacancy in the Senate because Mr Culleton has been disqualified.

The Federal Court ruled last month that Mr Culleton was an “undischarged bankrupt”.

Mr Culleton has vowed to fight his disqualification.

Stephen Parry
Senate president Stephen Parry. Photo: AAP

Senate president Stephen Parry said in a statement he had received copies from the Federal Court Registry recording Mr Culleton as bankrupt.

He said Section 45 of the constitution provides an MP’s seat becomes vacant if they are subject to a number of “disabilities”, including bankruptcy, as set out in Section 44.

“It is a necessary and automatic consequence of the declaration of bankruptcy of a serving senator, that his place as a senator becomes vacant,” Senator Parry wrote.

Read Stephen Parry’s statement on Culleton’s removal from Parliament below:

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Mr Culleton has repeatedly denied he is bankrupt.

The Federal Court ordered a 21-day stay of proceedings following last month’s court hearing which expires on Friday, but it is understood this does not affect the bankruptcy ruling itself.

Mr Culleton earlier told the ABC he had asked for the Senate to be recalled, to resolve his status.

But Senator Parry earlier told the ABC this could only happen at the request of government or with the support of the majority of members.

Replacement hinges on Culleton’s eligibility to run in first place

The High Court, sitting as the Court of Disputed Returns, may yet decide Mr Culleton was not eligible to even be a candidate, due to an outstanding conviction.

It is not known who his replacement might be, but there is speculation his brother-in-law could take over his position.

Options for filling the vacancy include One Nation choosing a replacement candidate, or the position being allocated to the second person on the 2016 One Nation Senate ticket — Peter Georgiou, who is Mr Culleton’s brother-in-law.

There could also be a recount of votes.

Senator Parry said it would be necessary for the Court of Disputed Returns to decide whether Mr Culleton was ever eligible to become a senator in the first place, before it would become apparent how the vacancy might be filled.

Mr Culleton parted ways with One Nation on December 18, citing “un-Australian behaviour” and “public rants” from the party.

He was embroiled in a public scuffle earlier this month as One Nation member Anthony Fels tried to serve him bankruptcy papers.

He fell to the ground and then sought hospital treatment for a wrist injury.

The ABC has attempted to contact Mr Culleton.

-ABC

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