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Monday, 7 November 2016
Page: 1928

Senator CULLETON (Western Australia) (13:39): I want to put a few housekeeping rules and put the Senate on notice that this has all come as a great surprise. In response to the Senate, I rise in the Senate chamber today to state the situation as I have become aware of it, confirmed only this morning at a meeting of Senator Brandis. In fact, I have only just been handed further documents in the chamber before speaking. May I declare at the outset that, in my discussions with the Clerk of the Senate this morning, I was clearly informed that I have the right to exercise my vote in the Senate and continue to represent the people of Western Australia, as I was elected to do. I intend to dutifully and responsibly fulfil my commitment to each and every one of them while in this place each day I am privileged to remain here, see through my promises and honour my oath of allegiance to this nation.

The very nature of this situation confirms to me what Australians have seen in parliamentary representation for far too long. Parliamentary representatives who stand up and represent their constituents will always be under attack from within and without. That is all too often the nature of the political climate in this country. The preference in the party arena is for the conformity to just warm the seats for the respective parties, with no tolerance for true representation of constituents' interests. This is not a democracy and that is not in the interests of true representation in this place for all Australians. Certain parties believe they have a vested interest in the Senate seat. Their actions and reactions today reflect that vested interest in securing this Western Australian Senate seat, through which I was elected to serve my constituents in Western Australia for the next three years. Whether or not a concise vote is allowed in this chamber on this issue, it is clear from the reaction of many senators towards me today that their consciences are already strongly affecting their votes and their demeanour.

In due course, what has been going on behind closed doors will thoroughly be exposed, both the skulduggery and the acts of integrity and character—the mateship that separates the Australian national ethos in a league of its own, refusing to allow such acts of bastardry without challenge or an indication of support and solidarity. The media claims by those aligned with particular political parties that they would fund the spurious and frivolous challenge to the High Court, knowing the lack of substance involved, deserve contempt and not to be stamped with the authority of this chamber.

Coincidentally, a question from myself to the Senate that was subsequently referred to the Rules Committee of the High Court in October and questioned the legitimacy of the High Court itself has now been followed by this frivolous action, setting a serious precedent for every candidate who seeks to represent their state and the nation. Every candidate who stands for election in any parliament of Australia has a worrying precedent set here today—that is, any candidate who owes money or for any reason withholds money because of poor service or workmanship is open to charges of this nature being levelled against them during the critical period of their candidacy in order to remove them from the parliamentary position should they be elected.

Senator Brandis claims that this is a government matter to be resolved. He has, however, failed to offer any commitment regarding the government's responsibility to fund my defence and representation.

My colleagues in this chamber here today have the opportunity to right the wrongs and recognise that natural justice has not been served in the Court of Disputed Returns over these spurious charges, which were annulled. There was no conviction recorded on the matter, thereby acknowledging that they never existed. Because of double jeopardy, any further charges laid against me resulted in no conviction for larceny, but I made an agreement to accept the damages and the costs claimed by the truck driver for a single key.

In summarising, Magistrate Holmes at Armidale declared the matter as frivolous and declared me a man of good character, again refusing to record any conviction on the matter. I stand in this chamber today and ask my fellow senators to recognise the breaches of my privileges that have been clearly evidenced here and that this matter be referred to the Privileges Committee. In both matters under discussion the claims are both spurious and inaccurate. I do not claim, ever, to be a perfect man. Amongst imperfection, there was only one perfect man who walked this earth, and we remember that they lauded him one week and then brutally beat him and crucified him the next.

On Saturday 29 October Senator Brandis said he had been in contact with the High Court and that it had been brought to his attention that the contempt of my question is accurate. If that is the case, what are we doing here today without that issue of the High Court being first resolved? If, indeed, the High Court is out of order, as my question indicated and their own rules confirm, how can they preside over anyone? In his concluding observation, the recently-resigned Solicitor-General Justin Gleeson recorded in item 67, 'The current pleadings in the election petition proceeding are deficient and, in my view, should be endurable.' In other words, this action could run out of sight on a dark night. However, contrary to his statement that Court of Disputed Returns may be prepared by a single justice, my request is for a full jury trial, as is my right under the nation's Constitution. A case of precedent in such a matter in the High Court was set in Nile v Wood 1987 FC 87/063. I will table the document, with the leave of the Senate, along with my letter to the President, the time line of my events and the letter from the Hon. George Brandis with the attachment from the then Solicitor-General—obviously with the consent of leave.

We have a country in need of a moral and ethical Senate chamber and yet the most urgent call to this chamber this morning is to attempt to remove two senators who have worked determinedly to restore the constitutional rights of every Australian—a shameful indictment while 21 fathers suicide each week and numerous lives are lost to suicide across the country due to the unconscionable acts of foreign-owned bankers and their agents. When I and other members of this Senate and those of the House of Representatives came here, we swore an allegiance to the Queen. That means we stand for what she stands for and what every digger who has ever served stood for. They were prepared to lay down their lives to defend what she represents, and we too are called on to make such sacrifices and to take on the challenges and obstacles to freedom of true democracy. I hope and pray that I meet that challenge and fully intend to do so to the best of my ability.

To all of those who have sent the numerous messages of support and praise from right across the country and from my own state in Western Australia, I give my heartfelt thanks. I will share with you on record one I received just as I walked to attend this chamber: 'Good morning, Rod. I support you 100 per cent. What a great senator you will be when you get through this. Don't focus on the outcome; just face each issue bravely and honestly, exactly as you've done. The people are with you. My whole family supports you. You are destined to be where you are and to help expose the elite, unethical activities of the banks. With best regards.'

I have nothing further to say—sorry, I should not say that: I have everything to say, which was in my first speech and I will take nothing away from that. Thank you.

The PRESIDENT: Senator Culleton, you sought leave during your speech to table some documents.

Senator CULLETON: Yes, I did.

Leave granted.