THE Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions (CDPP) has told former farmer and one-time WA One Nation Senator Rod Culleton it has discontinued two legal matters he initiated - in retaliation to being ruled ineligible to sit in parliament under Section 44 of the constitution - after failing to provide material disclosing any criminal offences.
Mr Culleton took action in the ACT Magistrates Court against Attorney General George Brandis in a private prosecution, claiming the senior Liberal had misled the Senate over the High Court referral which led to his disqualification ruling in early February this year.
The CDPP’s letter also provided justification for intervening on and discontinuing Mr Culleton’s attempts, in the same jurisdiction, to try to dispute the bankruptcy ruling in the long-running case against his former farming neighbour and one-time Wesfarmers Director Dick Lester.
That claim was started in 2010 by Mr Lester’s company Balwyn Nominees over a debt of about $205,000 linked to the lease and potential sale of his $13 million Williams property in the WA Wheatbelt, and a contract to sell oats, dating back to 2009.
Mr Culleton’s legal moves were seen as a desperate bid to try to regain his place in parliament or clear his name.
But a letter from the CDPP to Mr Culleton dated November 15 said, “There is no prima facie case in either of the matters you have instituted”.
In reference to the claim raised against Senator Brandis, the letter said “The material provided to us in this matter does not disclose any criminal offence”.
“In particular, we note that there is no ‘judicial power of the commonwealth’ involved in the conduct you allege, and that this (is) a requirement of the charged offence.
“The Senate is not a judicial power.
“We further note that the Hansard transcripts that you provided are inadmissible in criminal proceedings.”
On the claim against Mr Lester, the CDPP’s letter repeated its earlier blunt statement saying, “The material provided to us in this matter does not disclose any criminal offence”.
“In particular, your claim that there was no debt owed in the bankruptcy proceedings to which you were summonsed is plainly incorrect as a debt was found to exist by the District Court of Western Australia,” it said.
“The Supreme Court upheld that decision on appeal on two separate occasions.
“Even if you had a proper basis for disputing that debt, a criminal prosecution is not an avenue appeal.”
The case where Mr Culleton sought to accuse the Attorney-General of attempting to pervert the course of justice, in making the High Court referral, appeared in the ACT Magistrates Court in September.
But it was adjourned until mid-November for the CDPP to make its determination.
Outside the Court at the time, Mr Culleton told media he had “a very strong case”.
“People now, if their Senators aren't going to step up and properly represent their constituents like I am, they can file a private prosecution for $80 in here and go their hardest. I think it's great,” he said.
“This is a great case.
“It's all on Hansard - it's in the public interest - we've got all our ducks in a row.
“It's not overly complex - it's just about finding an avenue and sticking to it and having right on your side, which is all on Hansard - and I'll run my case beautifully.”
On the CDPP letter, Mr Culleton said his actions in the ACT courts were part of a “strategy” that he established out of reading Senate manuals to give him a “direct uplift” to the High Court without having to seek leave of the court, for $80.
He said it didn’t matter that the claims “fizzled out” in the ACT Magistrates Court and he maintained the Senate does have judicial power.
“Senators need to look at the constitution and see what powers we really have - that's what it's there for,” he said.
In a letter to Ministerial and Parliamentary Services and the Department of Finance regarding an offer for Mr Culleton to request a waiver of the alleged Commonwealth debt racked up while serving in parliament, he referred to his concerns about the method of his disqualification.
“I wish to advise the parliament that as I am still fully in control of my assets I am not deemed to be a ‘bankrupt’, all my legal avenues have yet to be exhausted and evidence has been filed within the courts to clearly show that I am not insolvent,” he said.
“If the government wishes to seek my position surrounding solvency, material that is on the court record in regard to my solvency can be sought by yourselves.
“Due to the unprecedented nature that surrounds the circumstances which had derived from the High Court’s decision to a created question by the Commonwealth Attorney General and leader of the Senate for the government, it has clearly left legal avenues fully open to myself as a duly elected Senator that must be corrected…to avoid any liability of myself and my former staff and to avoid trespassing on the rights of the WA voters.”
Mr Culleton was elected for One Nation at last year’s federal poll but split from the party in December after falling out with leader, founder and Queensland Senator Pauline Hanson due to a rift over a Royal Commission into banking, focussed on farm debt.