Senator Rod Culleton has split from the One Nation party, releasing a furious statement accusing leader Pauline Hanson of disloyalty and walking away from key pre-election pledges.
Senator Culleton, who faced a High Court hearing earlier this month over his eligibility to to serve in the Senate, announced late on Sunday he will spend the remainder of his term in the upper house as an independent.
“Policy decisions have been run in morning media, with no consultation, discussion or agreement from the party room and personal attacks and undermining, un-Australian behaviour towards myself and my team, has been ongoing and terms dictated to the team,” he said in a statement late Sunday night.
Senator Culleton has been at odds with Ms Hanson in recent weeks, firstly for a perceived lack of support over his High Court appearance, then over the One Nation leader’s support for the Kidman station sale to a consortium headed by Gina Rinehart and China’s Shanghai CRED.
Pauline Hanson responds to the Culleton affair
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“Since my election to the Senate, I have consistently remained committed to all of the policies and pre-election promises, however my PHON (Pauline Hanson’s One Nation) Senate colleagues public record shows they have not,” he said.
“I refused to support the sale of Australian prime agricultural land to foreign ownership before the election and I will continue to do so.”
Senator Culleton also broke away from One Nation on the final parliamentary sitting day to vote on a 13 per cent backpacker tax proposal, while on Sunday he suggested Ms Hanson had dropped support for his proposed banking royal commission.
“I can no longer tolerate the lack of party support for my positive initiatives, including the recent abandonment of PHON’s pre-election commitment to a Banking Royal Commission”, he said.
The outspoken senator, meanwhile, is awaiting to learn his fate after his High Court appearance, with a judgment still to be made as to whether he is fit to serve in Parliament.
Senator Culleton was referred to the court under section 44(ii) of the constitution, because he was technically convicted of a crime carrying a sentence of one year or more at the time of the election.
He accused Ms Hanson and her chief of staff James Ashby of attempting to force his resignation.
“The PHON leader’s public rants against me have also been accompanied by demands for my resignation and control over diaries, office management and staffing by Senator Hanson and her Chief of Staff, James Ashby. The irrational dictates have caused only disunity and distrust,” he said in a statement.
Senator Culleton also complained of a lack of respect from Ms Hanson and fellow One Nation senators.
“In supporting PHON 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.”