by Robert J Lee in Canberra
Embattled Western Australia independent Senator Rodney Culleton has accused the Attorney General of “total incompetence” for referring him to the High Court to determine if he had been disqualified from entering the senate after the July 2 election.
A petition to the Federal Court from Perth businessman Dick Lester to have Senator Culleton declared bankrupt over alleged debts could only be determined by the senate.
He said the Attorney General was “out of his depth” in referring the matter to the High Court.
“Section 47 of the Commonwealth Constitution of Australia is quite plain when it says ‘until the Parliament otherwise provides, any question respecting the qualification of a senator or of a member,…. and any question of a disputed election to either House, shall be determined by the House in which the question arises.’” Senator Culleton explained.
“Quite clearly the judge was wrong in making a Sequestration Order to seize or freeze my assets especially after my lawyer told Justice Barker that sufficient funds had been deposited into his trust account to cover any alleged debt.
“The antics of Justice Michael Barker whose Court was described as a ‘circus’ by the Western Australia Newspaper and the efforts to frustrate the will of the people of Western Australia who have duly elected a Senator are matters that must now be faced by Attorney General George Brandis and the offending judge in the Senate.
“A referral to the High Court can only occur under the Electoral Act. There is no law which can refer a question like this to a court. This is a job for the Senate.
“The senate must consider Section 16 of the Parliamentary Privileges Act which brings in the Bill of Rights 1688 that guarantees jury trial and appeals to Parliament.”
Senator Culleton says he has the numbers to call the judge and Attorney General before the Bar of the senate to show cause why they should not be sacked.
Primary producers, small business and truck operators who had been gutted by the banks and lost their properties and lifetime’s work through similar court proceedings would benefit enormously from this manoeuvre, he said.