ONE Nation WA Senator Peter Georgiou has broken his silence after reaching the end of his tether over an alleged, subversive and ongoing harassment campaign aimed at undermining him, fuelled by his brother-in-law and the man he replaced Rod Culleton.
Senator Georgiou was appointed to officially replace Mr Culleton as a WA Senator after the former farmer was controversially disqualified by the High Court earlier this year for breaching constitutional electoral eligibility rules, including due to bankruptcy.
The former electrician returned the critical crossbench vote to One Nation, after Mr Culleton had previously split and turned independent following a major rift with leader Pauline Hanson shortly before being turfed out of federal parliament.
However, the quietly spoken but determined WA Senator has expressed frustrations and contacted police in a precautionary move, following attempts this week that his office believe are linked to his brother-in-law’s efforts to try to drag him into the citizenship saga that’s engulfed federal parliament and is destabilising the Coalition government.
Senator Georgiou’s office has asked for the identity of Mr Culleton’s former staff member to be kept out of reports – but says the person sought to contact Senator Georgiou via text messages, including on his personal phone, resulting in a “rather coincidental” media inquiry shortly after, questioning if he had dual Greek citizenship.
A screen-shot of the message, seen by Fairfax Media, claiming to be from a WA constituent and former staffer of Mr Culleton, said they’d been following Senator Georgiou’s Facebook page and his interview with ABC Radio and others, “whereby you have stated publicly, that your parents are Greek immigrants”.
The message raised questions about members no longer being allowed to sit in parliament due to breaching Section 44 of the constitution, and the High Court’s ruling leading to others having to come forward to demonstrate that they’ve “renounced their eligibility of privileges to another country”.
“I wish to receive confirmation that you as a public servant both you & your parents have taken steps to renounce the eligibility of such privileges,” it said.
A spokesman for Senator Georgiou said efforts had been made since the One Nation representative was appointed via a recount of the WA Senate election votes, to try to ignore ongoing harassment, in particular on social media, as a favour to his family and in particular his sister Ioanna who is married to Mr Culleton.
Ms Culleton was also third on the One Nation WA Senate ticket at last year’s federal election but unlike Senator Georgiou was born in Greece and is believed to be a dual citizen.
Senator Georgiou’s office ruled out any possibility that Senator Georgiou was, however, a dual citizen of Greece and said he had nothing to renounce, because he’d never applied for Greek citizenship and was also born in Perth.
“There's no doubt this is part of a concerted and ongoing campaign from the ‘Culleton Gang’ to undermine and destabilise the goodwill that Peter Georgiou is doing across the state in a short space of time,” the spokesman said.
“On Tuesday afternoon this woman, a former staffer of Rod Culleton, took liberties beyond her realm and contacted one of the Senator's advisors and queried his citizenship.
“The next morning she sent a text directly to the Senator's personal phone raising questions about his citizenship status.
“After this intrusive text was sent to the Senator, within 30 mins the office received a phone call from a Canberra press gallery journalist asking the nature of Peter Georgiou's citizenship status.
“The matter has since been referred to the AFP and the AFP has spoken to Culleton’s former staffer.”
Senator Georgiou’s spokesman said if further contact persisted “it could constitute as harassment”.
“Peter Georgiou is the One Nation Senator for Western Australia,” he said.
“If that doesn’t sit well with certain people - tough - get over it.”
The spokesman said the Senator had nothing to hide as far as his citizenship was concerned and he was Australian and only an Australian citizen.
He said while the Senator may be eligible for Greek Citizenship he'd never acted upon it, to activate his eligibility.
“To do so he would have to be registered at a local municipality in Greece or at the local Consulate in Perth with a series of documents proving the name and birth of his father and grandfather and the location of the births,” he said.
“This has never been done.
“The Greek government doesn't hand out citizenship willy-nilly.
“The Senator would like to focus on getting the job done: fixing the GST; boosting gas royalties for WA; keeping the banks honest and participating in the Senate Select Committee inquiry into rural lending practices; and addressing family law issues in WA.”
After his disqualification, Mr Culleton said his brother in-law “runs his own show” and was his “own man” who would decide how to approach his political career.
Mr Culleton was in Parliament House in Canberra when Senator Georgiou delivered his maiden speech – but did not sit in the public gallery to watch his brother-in-law’s political declaration, unlike other family members, which is generally the tradition.
He also wasn’t invited to attend a function later for close friends, family and associates to celebrate the occasion.
Mr Culleton denied any involvement and said, “I cant comment on something I know nothing about”.