One of Pauline Hanson's former senators has been referred to police over his nomination to contest the coming federal election after the Australian Electoral Commission questioned his declaration that he was fit to stand for Parliament again.
The commission referred Rod Culleton, a former Western Australian senator for Pauline Hanson's One Nation, to the police on Wednesday over concerns at his prior disqualification because he was an undischarged bankrupt.
The decision came after the commission finalised the list of candidates for the election and their positions on ballot papers, in a random draw that has helped One Nation and another anti-immigrant party, Rise Up Australia.
The Liberal Party has also gained an advantage in the contest for the Senate after the random draw gave it prime position on the Victorian ballot paper, as well as a higher position than Labor in NSW.
Mr Culleton was sworn in as a senator in 2016 but fell out with Senator Hanson and quit One Nation to become an independent, before a dispute over his financial affairs saw his election challenged in the High Court.
He was declared bankrupt by the Federal Court in December 2016 over a $280,000 debt to a Perth businessman and disqualified from the Senate in a High Court decision early in 2017.
The AEC announced on Wednesday it had received a nomination from Mr Culleton for the Western Australian Senate ballot and did not have the power to reject a fully completed candidate nomination.
"This includes whether or not the completed candidate Nomination Form may contain a false declaration as to the eligibility of that person to stand for election," the AEC said.
"However, given Mr Culleton's prior disqualification by the High Court, the AEC has referred Mr Culleton's candidate nomination form to the Australian Federal Police to examine if a false declaration has been made under provisions of the Criminal Code Act 1995, relating to his status as an undischarged bankrupt."
The AEC based its decision on the "pima facie" disqualification of an undischarged bankrupt from the Parliament under section 44(iii) of the constitution.
"A search of the National Personal Insolvency Index indicates that Mr Culleton is currently listed as an undischarged bankrupt," the commission said.
Mr Culleton's name will appear on the WA Senate ballot paper in the 2019 federal election but the AEC's move is likely to undermine his campaign, while also guaranteeing a challenge to the High Court if he was elected.
The random draws for the House of Representatives helped a series of prominent Liberal MPs including Tony Abbott, Peter Dutton, Greg Hunt and Michael Sukkar by putting them all ahead of independent or Labor challengers in their lower house races.
The Senate draw has been a significant factor in previous elections, with the Liberal Democratic Party gaining a seat in the upper house in 2013 because it was in first position on the ballot paper and benefited from the "donkey vote".
The Victorian ballot paper has the Liberal Party in first position, with the United Australia Party in sixth, Derryn Hinch and his party in ninth, Pauline Hanson's One Nation in 17th, the Greens in 22nd and Labor in 24th.
The NSW paper has Rise Up in first position, with the Liberals in fourth, the Greens in seventh and the Shooter's Fishers and Farmers' Party in eight position. The paper has Labor in tenth, One Nation in 19th and the United Australia Party in 26th.
The Queensland Senate paper has Rise Up in first position, One Nation in second, the United Australia Party in third and the Liberal National Party in fourth, with the Greens in eighth position and Labor in tenth.
- SMH/The Age