by Gil Hanrahan in Melbourne
An attempt by the Commonwealth Department of Public Prosecutions to prosecute ‘Senator in exile’ Rod Culleton for not complying with a sequestration order, has so far failed in the Commonwealth Magistrates Court in Perth.
After a submission by Culleton, at a hearing on Friday, the Magistrate ordered the criminal matter be adjourned for two months to allow mediation between the parties.
Culleton said he had not been served with any summons by the CDPP prior to the court appearance yet the case had been listed to be heard on July 27 without his prior knowledge, had he not been ‘tipped off’ by a third party.
He said inquiries made to the court prior to the sitting revealed he had been charged but not informed of the charges.
In a letter to the court Culleton explained he had not been served with any process.
“I made appropriate enquiries today (July 10) to the registry of the Magistrates Court in Perth and to Peter Botros (CDPP, Canberra) outlining my concerns. I have been informed that fresh criminal charges have been made against me personally, which has taken me by surprise,” Mr Culleton said.
“I had not been informed of the details of the spurious charge …..listed for 27th July 2018 as I have not been personally served on any matter.
“It appears that the CDPP is usurping its powers to commence a criminal prosecution over a matter I know nothing about.
“All other matters are before the High Court (C15/2016) in Canberra re s44(ii) and s44(iii) (disqualification re jurisdiction) which is still awaiting a ‘date to be fixed,’” he said.
Culleton was charged by WA police two years ago for allegedly stealing a receiver’s car at an attempted farm seizure by the ANZ Bank. The police, without any benefit of a sworn statement by any person present commenced proceedings against him for allegedly placing barley straw bales around the locked vehicle.
Barley straw is so light in weight that a child could have removed the hay bales, an onlooker commented at the time.
He said the police have no direct evidence or sworn statement that implicates him. He was one of a large crowd helping another distressed farmer rally against the now-proven criminal activities of banks.
“At the original hearing about the straw bales I told the Magistrate there was no case to answer. Then the police escorted me from the court,” Mr Culleton said.
This matter has been set down for another hearing on August 27.
The Federal Liberal Government is desperate to get Culleton out of the way before the High Court rules on the unsettled matter of jurisdiction.
Should the HCA order Culleton be returned to the senate the ramifications for the government are extraordinary, which would almost certainly result in criminal conspiracy charges against former Attorney General George Brandis QC, the dismissal of the Government and a fresh election of both Houses.
A directions hearing is scheduled for August 6.
In reply from a letter to the Governor General from Culleton suggesting Saturday’s five by-elections could be unlawful, Government House Secretary Mark Fraser said the GG cannot intervene in a matter “that is the responsibility of the Government”
The GG is the Head of Government in Australia. Legislation passed in Parliament cannot become law unless the GG gives Royal Assent, albeit a token gesture these days.
The letter demonstrates the highest office in Australia has been completely neutered since the creation of Whitlam’s republic in 1975 and Hawke’s Australia Act 1986.
The Constitution clearly gives the GG Sir Peter Cosgrove authority to intervene in the Culleton matter, but it seems the former army General has lost his way.
Culleton’s very public argument that s 47 of the Commonwealth Constitution clearly states his matter of qualification to sit in the senate under s 44 can only be decided by the senate and not the Court of Disputed Returns, has been filed with the HCA.
So-much-so that he attracted the attention of respected counsel and former Solicitor General of Australia, David Bennett AC, QC to represent him on the disqualification question.
The Federal Government’s dirty tricks department is alive and well and demonstrates the extent to which Cabinet and the Liberal Party will go to protect the Canberra lawyers club.