Election umpire refers WA candidate to police

Former One Nation senator Rod Culleton. Picture: AAP/File image
Former One Nation senator Rod Culleton. Picture: AAP/File image

VOTERS could face a number of “zombie candidates”, as the Australian Electoral Commission referred a Senate nominee to the federal police.

Former One Nation and independent senator Rod Culleton was disqualified from parliament in a High Court decision in 2017.

However, he has declared on his nomination form for the West Australian Senate he was clear to run in the 2019 federal election.

While the AEC does not have the power to reject his nomination – regardless of whether any answer to a question of the qualification checklist is incorrect, false or inadequate – it has provided the form to the Australian Federal Police to examine if a false declaration has been made, relating to his status as an undischarged bankrupt.

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Former One Nation and independent senator Rod Culleton was disqualified from parliament. Picture: AAP

Being an undischarged bankrupt prevents a person from being chosen, or to sit, as a senator under section 44 of the constitution.

“A search of the National Personal Insolvency Index indicates that Mr Culleton is currently listed as an undischarged bankrupt,” the AEC said in a statement on Wednesday.

“The outcome of the AFP’s examination of this matter will be a matter for the AFP to advise in due course.

“If the AEC is presented with compelling evidence that other candidates in the 2019 federal election may have also signed a false declaration we will consider whether similar referrals to the AFP are warranted to ascertain if the candidate has committed an offence.”

Mr Culleton’s name will remain on the WA Senate ballot paper, even though he may be disqualified.

It may not be the end of the “zombie candidate” issue, as the AEC works its way through more than 10,000 pages of information provided by candidates under the new rules designed to head off the MP dual-citizenship debacle of the past 18 months.

The candidate declarations are due to be published before early voting starts on Monday.

Candidate ballot papers for the Senate and House of Representatives were finalised on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Scott Morrison and Bill Shorten will pause their election campaigning on Thursday for Anzac Day commemorations in Townsville and Darwin.

“We must honour our veterans around our memorials but we must honour the veterans who are living each and every day,” Mr Morrison told reporters in Darwin on Wednesday, announcing $30 million for veterans’ wellbeing centres in Darwin, Townsville, Adelaide, Perth, Nowra and Wodonga.

Labor has promised all Australian veterans the same funeral benefits, regardless of the conflict in which they served as part of a $118 million package.

The funeral expenses would cost $90.4 million, while the opposition has also committed $20 million towards local war memorials as well as money for art therapy and retreats for veterans.