Former One Nation senator Rod Culleton has secured a one-week extension of a bankruptcy case, which has forced him to lose his seat in federal Parliament.
The extension of the stay – which was set to expire at midnight on Friday – comes after Senate President Stephen Parry declared Mr Culleton’s seat vacant, claiming the Federal Court had confirmed he was bankrupt.
But Mr Culleton claims the stay means he is not officially bankrupt and can continue to act as a senator.
Mr Culleton has criticised Mr Parry for “jumping the gun” and has threatened legal action against some media outlets who have reported his statement.
He said he had launched High Court action over Mr Parry’s decision to advise of a vacancy.
“I’m really testing the courts, there are constitutional matters that need to come forward,” he told journalists outside a Perth court.
“You know, we need a fair system, and I believe after today we’re starting to see a swing.”
In a testy press conference, Mr Culleton said he was not delaying the inevitable and described the extension as “a good order”.
“The 21-day stay has been over the Christmas period – a lot of lawyers have been away – it’s not really time to be suiting up in the courts, and that’s what got me in trouble in the first place,” he said.
“I am not going to start arguing – what has clearly been put before the honourable court is that I am not insolvent.”
In a statement issued on Wednesday, Mr Parry said his decision to declare Mr Culleton’s seat vacant was an “automatic consequence of the declaration of bankruptcy of a serving senator”.
Mr Culleton has told reporters he intends to launch a High Court challenge to Mr Parry’s actions.
“I don’t feel threatened; I still have my senator’s badge on and I am going to my senator’s office,” he said.
Stephen Parry’s statement on Rod Culleton:
Culleton claims he is solvent
Mr Culleton and his chief of staff Margaret Menzel claim the stay ruling, granted in the Federal Court last month, means Mr Culleton is not officially bankrupt until it expires.
The ABC understands a stay is routine practise to allow new bankrupts to get their affairs in order before facing the financial consequences.
The National Personal Insolvency Index, a federal government register operated by the Australian Financial Security Authority, states that Mr Culleton is “an undischarged bankrupt”.
It states the date of bankruptcy as December 23, 2016, the date of the Federal Court hearing.
Under section 44 of the Constitution, a senator who is declared bankrupt or insolvent is disqualified from serving in the Senate.
How Mr Culleton is replaced will hinge on a separate matter before the Court of Disputed Returns, that will assess if he was in fact eligible to run for the Senate in the first place.
If the court finds he was ineligible, due to an earlier larceny charge, his name will be struck off the ballot paper and a recount ordered.
If the court rules in Mr Culleton’s favour, it would allow his former party One Nation, who he parted ways with last month, to select a replacement.