One Nation leader Pauline Hanson has vowed her party will survive after the resignation of senator Rod Culleton, who claimed he had been subjected to “public rants” and “un-Australian” behaviour by Senator Hanson.
Tensions within the minor party have been bubbling for weeks, as Senators Hanson and Culleton engaged in a running skirmish through the media.
The West Australian senator’s resignation came before he represented himself in the Federal Court for a dramatic bankruptcy hearing involving former Wesfarmers director Dick Lester.
Senator Hanson said she would not be deterred by Senator Culleton’s resignation.
“I have worked too hard to get back here after everything that has been thrown at me by the political parties and everyone else to destroy me, and what I stand for, and my principles,” Senator Hanson said.
“I have no intentions of folding up and going away, this means too much to me.”
In a statement, Senator Culleton said Senator Hanson’s “public rants” were accompanied by demands for his resignation and control over his diary, office management and staffing.
“The irrational dictates have caused only disunity and distrust,” he said.
Earlier this month, the One Nation leader said Senator Culleton was not a team player, was obsessed with the media, and said his behaviour had been “all over the bloody place”.
Senator Culleton will continue as an independent in the Senate but his future largely rests with the High Court, which is considering the validity of his election.
He had a larceny conviction against his name on election day, which the Commonwealth argues disqualifies him under the constitution.
The West Australian argues the conviction was annulled and therefore should have no impact on his tenure.
One Nation did not support ‘my positive initiatives’, Culleton says
Senator Culleton has criticised One Nation for veering away from its election commitments, including over agricultural land sales and the banking industry.
“I can no longer tolerate the lack of party support for my positive initiatives,” Senator Culleton said.
“In supporting PHON [Pauline Hanson One Nation] policy, I would have thought it reasonable to expect some measure of support or at the very least, some discretion and respect from the party leader and my party colleagues — there has been none.”
Senator Hanson told reporters on Monday her latest argument with Senator Culleton came after she rejected his bid for party funds to fight a challenge to his election.
“He was asking for financial support and I said ‘Rod, this is going to cost up to a million dollars and I said I cannot support you and I will not financially back you’,” she said.
Senator Hanson said Senator Culleton then asked if she wanted him to resign from the party.
“I said yes, yes,” Ms Hanson said.
Outside the Federal Court in Perth, Senator Culleton dismissed her claims and said he had never asked for money.
“I can put my hand on my heart and say I have never asked her for any money to do with my legal fees,” he said.
“I just simply said to [One Nation Senator Brian Burston] it would be lovely to get more support, come past the office, buy me a cup of coffee.”
‘We will get over it’, Hanson says
Senator Hanson said her party was stable and would recover from the turbulence of Senator Culleton’s resignation.
“I am very sorry this has happened and especially for the people of Western Australia, who voted for One Nation,” she told reporters.
“The whole party does not come down to one person – it doesn’t come down to just Pauline Hanson and it does not come down to just Rod Culleton.
“This has been an experience for the party and we will get over it.”
Senator Hanson said she had no intention of “folding up” and retreating from political life.
“I am not going to walk away, this is not going to destroy me, this is not going to destroy the party,” she said.
“If you look at what I have done in the past, this is just a bump.”
Federal MP Bob Katter, who has showed his support for Senator Culleton at his High Court appearances, has told reporters the West Australian would not be joining his party.
“That would not be desirable from our point of view and not desirable from his point of view,” he said.
“We’re working closely together now and look, we don’t need everybody to join our party so long as they vote the right way.”