A bizarre battle has erupted between the Australian Greens and former senator Rod Culleton’s Great Australian Party, with the two organisations accusing each other of plagiarism over near-identical animal rights policies.
“When the Greens say we want other parties to adopt our policies, I don’t think we usually mean through copy and paste,” Greens senator Mehreen Faruqi said.
But Mr Culleton, elected to the Senate in 2016 as a One Nation candidate before being removed under section 44 of the constitution, shot back by claiming the Greens had actually stolen his work.
“We’ve done our own policies on animal welfare. We have a duty of care to our native life and our animals, but for the Greens to come out and claim we’ve copied, it’s absolute nonsense,” he said.
At issue are policies published on each party’s website.
The Greens’ “Animals” policy states that animals “must be recognised as sentient beings that deserve our care and respect”, and “have intrinsic value, separate from the needs of humans”; that “humans have a duty of care”; that “strong animal welfare standards and laws are necessary”; and that “native animals and their habitats are at particular risk and require stringent protections”.
The Great Australian Party, which Mr Culleton founded after leaving One Nation, has an “Animal Welfare” policy on its website.
It states that animals “must be recognised as sentient beings that deserve our care and respect”, and “have intrinsic value, separate from the needs of humans”; that “humans have a duty of care”; that “strong animal welfare standards and laws are necessary”; and that “native animals and their habitats are at particular risk and require stringent protections”.
Both policies begin with the statement that the party “believes that”, before a numbered list.
Both policies have numerous other points, which are not similar, but at least five points at the beginnings of the respective policies appear essentially identical.
“Animals would be treated much better in this country if more political parties adopted Greens policies on animal welfare,” Senator Faruqi told The New Daily.
“Today, the GAP. Tomorrow, the Liberals and Nationals.”
Archived copies of the Greens website, found through the Wayback Machine service, show the Greens had such policy on their website as early as 2016 – when Mr Culleton was still a member of One Nation, and before the GAP was founded.
But Mr Culleton vigorously defended his party from accusations of plagiarism, instead alleging the Greens had taken his policies.
“Maybe it’s coincidental. Maybe the Greens have copied ours,” he told TND in a phone call.
“I can tell you right now, all our policies are done in the party. The Greens website would be the last place I’d visit.
“I would think the contrary, that they’ve picked up the policies from us.”
Mr Culleton joked he didn’t even like the colour green – quipping “I prefer blue to green”.
He said himself and other “key players” in the GAP had written the policies, and that “we didn’t look at a Greens page”.
The Greens, for their part, dispute Mr Culleton’s counter-argument.
GAP plans for federal election
A new “key player” in the party is celebrity chef Pete Evans, who recently was announced as a GAP candidate for the federal Senate at the next election.
Mr Culleton praised Evans – who was dropped from numerous employment opportunities and deleted from social media platforms over his dangerous and controversial claims about COVID – as “someone who has come through adversity, like myself”.
When TND asked what had attracted him to Evans, Mr Culleton responded, “What doesn’t attract me?”
“He doesn’t make a statement, he goes by inquiry. I like people who inquire,” he said.
“I like Pete. He stood out, not because he’s a celebrity on TV, but I look at how people can stay in the game. He can play a full four-quarter game of football, he can play his heart out until the final siren.”
Mr Culleton said GAP would run numerous “well-constitutionalised” candidates for the Senate at the coming election, but was not focusing on the House of Representatives.
“[The Senate is] where the government is failing the people. We’re not interested in getting into the lower house. There’s that much hot air coming out of the lower house, it creates its own ecosystem. That’s why it’s green inside,” he joked.
“We don’t take donations from the big boys like the banks or mining companies or property developers like the other parties do, who seem to breastfeed on those nipples.”
Mr Culleton said he has spoken to recently independent former Liberal MP Craig Kelly, but that he had not been approached to join GAP “at the moment”.
Mr Culleton also plans to run for the Senate in Western Australia, with the hope of returning to Parliament and overturning previous pronouncements that he was an undischarged bankrupt.