The Bob Day bombshell and Senator Culleton’s ‘dark cloud’

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Australia’s Upper House is in chaos, with Senator Bob Day’s resignation and Senator Rod Culleton’s eligibility in question and both cases being referred to the High Court for adjudication.

The Bob Day bombshell
After tendering his resignation yesterday, the Upper House is reeling after it was revealed that Senator Bob Day may have been illegally voting in Parliament for more than two years.

Bob Day’s problems stem from a constitutional point that says an election candidate cannot have any pecuniary interest in the Commonwealth. The Family First MP had his electorate office in a building which was owned by a company to which he was linked. So, in effect, he was earning salary from taxpayers as well as collecting rent from them.

The former senator’s financial fiasco may well be putting Government legislation at risk, which is especially troubling when he has supported the Government in 95 per cent of votes in the Senate.

The Bob Day drama also shines a light on the spat between Attorney General George Brandis and the recently departed former Solicitor General Justin Gleeson who warned Mr Brandis of Bob Day’s issues and questioned the composition of the Senate.

As of next week, for the remaining three weeks of sittings, the Upper House will have 75 sitting Senators, instead of 76. But that is the least of our problems. The big issue is what to do next.

The High Court sitting as Court of Disputed Returns could recount the South Australian vote from the last Federal Election to find a replacement, or the South Australian Parliament could appoint a replacement.

Labor Senate Leader Penny Wong is all for the former option.

“If he was not (legally elected), Mr Day’s resignation would not create a casual vacancy because he was never validly elected in the first place,” said Senator Wong. “Precedent suggests the appropriate method for replacing Mr Day in the Senate would therefore be through a recount of the SA Senate vote rather than through the SA Parliament appointing a replacement.”

Labor is currently seeking legal advice on the matter.

Read more at The Age

Senator Culleton’s dark cloud
The Bob Day bombshell preceded allegations about One Nation Senator Rod Culleton’s eligibility for election on 2 July.

The Senate has been asked to consider challenging Senator Culleton’s election, after he pleaded guilty to larceny in a New South Wales court earlier this year.

The Western Australian Senator was charged with stealing a $7.50 key to a tow truck that, at the time, was removing his leased vehicle. Although the conviction was annulled in August, that was after his election on 2 July.

Former Solicitor-General Justin Gleeson was again consulted for advice on the matter and he suggested that Mr Culleton’s eligibility be tested in the High Court.

Senator Culleton, who spoke at a press conference in Perth yesterday, played down the charges, saying, “Just because I turn around and say that I took a key, it’s no different to taking a scone off someone’s plate.”

Senator Culleton could also be disqualified from the Senate if he is found to be personally responsible for the debts of his company Elite Grains, which is being liquidated with debts of $6 million. Under the constitution, a senator can be dismissed if he/she is found to be bankrupt or insolvent.

The High Court is being asked to rule on whether Bob Day was eligible to stand on 2 July and is now being called upon to rule on whether it was appropriate for Senator Culleton to stand.

Senator Culleton sent word to George Brandis saying that he would refrain from voting on any legislation until the High Court ruling on his eligibility.

The so-called ‘dark cloud’ that hangs over Senator Culleton’s head also hangs over the Government, with Labor only two crossbench votes shy of controlling Senate voting for the rest of the year.

Read more at www.abc.net.au

Do you think this is just a storm in a teacup? Does the credibility of these two politicians worry you? What, if anything, can be done to test the trustworthiness and integrity of our politicians and candidates putting themselves forward for election?

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Written by Leon Della Bosca

Leon Della Bosca is a voracious reader who loves words. You'll often find him spending time in galleries, writing, designing, painting, drawing, or photographing and documenting street art. He has a publishing and graphic design background and loves movies and music, but then, who doesn’t?

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82 Comments

Total Comments: 82
  1. 0
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    Isn’t it strange that the Electoral Commission did not check out candidates a bit better BEFORE the election.
    What we now have is the government trying to gain control of the senate by removing any senator who is not a coalition member. In all fairness Day was an ex Liberal and pretty well a stooge making up the numbers anyway so it is unsure why they have gone after him unless he did not support the union attack Bill. Either way this is a bad bad crew who have done nothing other than wreak havoc on the country since Abbott was elected and it does not look like this will change going forward other than some of the faces.
    We need (another) election.

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      Given the size of the Senate ballot paper, asking the Electoral Commission to check out candidates before the election is a bit much.

      I’d put the onus back on the candidates. Tell them THEY must find out the rules. If they get elected and are found to have broken ANY of them, they lose their seat.

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      Police record and court proceedings would not be that difficult methinks. But then we have a whole raft of unaccountable watchdogs who refuse to do what they were set up to do so no surprise that bad eggs get through the political process.

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      EC had 60 days to run all the essential checks on all candidates no matter how many there were listed on the ballot. The checks are not “bit much” they are essential. Imagine, giving a gun licence to a person and not conducting the essential checks because it was “bit too much” for the number of applicants. Very irresponsible and negligent!
      Speaking of neglect when will EC run psychopath and sociopath tests on all political party candidates, including its own employees and volunteers?

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      I agree MICK that all candidates must be checked out before an election. Nominations close in enough time to have police checks and Embassy checks for those who are suspected of being dual nationals. If a candidate is found to have breached the rules, let the election process continue but remove all votes and preferences from that candidate.

      I believe Brandis has started the inquiry into Day at the request of Labor. I don’t think he had much of a say in the matter. I also think that the parties must do probity checks as well because a casual vacancy may not be ruled when a disgraced senator leaves. This would mean that the party may not automatically get a replacement of their choice.

      Barak, isn’t that is exactly what is now happening? Day has moved on and investigations into Culleton are continuing? If Culleton is found to have breached the rules, he’s out.

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      I agree HS but I wonder if the EC took a punt and only checked those they thought would get elected. One Nation’s success was not predicted by anybody.

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      Strange, if you want to work with children or the elderly, you have to satisfy the employers that you have no criminal record or impending legal actions. But if you are making decisions that could impact on Australian voters we jut take your word.
      Do politicians really understand the people who they work for and are paid by?
      We really should have the right to sack employees that are not up to the job.

  2. 0
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    Day is the main problem for the government.
    The one nation bloke , if he goes , another one nation person can just jump into his spot.
    Unless there’s more to it than just pinching a key?
    I think that maybe we will have no choice but to have another election, because we have a rabble leading the country now. Making shocking mistakes , and a Prime Minister beholden to his crazy right wing side of his party. And on top of that the man seems to have no gumption , and if looking foolish in some areas trying to mix it with the public is a smart idea , then he is nearly over running Abbott in the dill stakes!

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    This reminds me a little of the latter days of the Whitlam government. He lost control of the Senate, though in his case it all done by the Opposition, somewhat unethically, many would argue. In this case, it’s the LNP’s “friends” who are stuffing up,

  4. 0
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    What a shamozzle. But then-its our fault. We got the Government we deserve. We are stupid, ill-informed and very easily hood-winked. We don’t research the issues. We don’t research the candidates either before we give them the big tick at the voting booth. Stupid People get stupid Government.

    • 0
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      That is about right Oliva.
      Fast forward America with people who are going to vote for Trump. It should come as no surprise that our brain dead voters are also too stupid to understand what they are doing, preferring instead to listen to media distortions and be groomed. We will all get what some of us do not deserve but what is inflicted onto us by the disinterested majority. People are such sheep.

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      How did Australian’s get the Government ‘we deserved’. Libs have their ‘mad right wingers’, Labor has its’ predominantly sized left wing contingent…’Marxist commo’s in training’.

      I’d say either party is pretty much equally positioned….This is not the fault of the people….more the two sleazy political entity as we truly know them…garbage!

      Throw in a few lunatics and former Communist Party of Australia devotees from the Looney Greens and a broken down Melbourne Shock Jock…and we have a Legislative Assembly that no one deserves.

      Democracy gave us this garbage….Isn’t democracy a wonderful thing! The people do a fantastic job sorting this garbage out…into something resembling a Government. The people are to be praised for their discernment.

      Political hacks are such sheep!

    • 0
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      You do not speak for me Olivia nor do you Mick!

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      grounded: the issue is that voters are conned and groomed by political advertising and by the best liars on the planet. Worse than that is most people know they are lying and vote for them anyway. So what is the definition of a rusted on?

      The solution is to smash the game by voting down both sides to the extent that they are badly weakened and begin to understand that voters are in charge, not big business who makes political donations and then wait for their pay offs.

      I was quite surprised when last night SBS interviewed people in Ohio and asked if they were voting for Trump. One made the correct call and pretty well said what I said above finishing with “I have found a good Independent and I will be voting for him”. That told me that there was at least 1 American who was not brain dead. Not too sure about our own countrymen though.
      We will indeed get what we deserve as a nation (either way) and I can only hope that those of us who are being so badly done over will think twice before they fill out the next ballot form. We’ll see.

    • 0
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      @ Mick….See, there you again Mick. I disagree with you…then I agree with you…Love you, then hate you….but you still come across as one sided partisan in your general commentary.

      Turnbull is no better or worse than Shorten, and vice versa, as goes for both of their respective parties. It is simply the name of the game that the power brokers; on both sides, feed to their sheep.

      Truthfully, there is no answer for it. Rusted on ideology will always produce garbage representatives within our Legislative chambers…that is just a fact of life….We should have learnt to live with it by now….because overall this isn’t to bad a country…still!

      As for Independents….I really don’t know….can you imagine what a Chamber full of; 500 odd, Hansons, Exonphones, Hinches, Palmers and that illiterate scrag from Tasmania etc., would be like. Pure chaos….absolutely NOTHING would get done.

      I personally think we have more than enough Independents than the country can currently manage….live with.

      More to the truth, is that the sheep need to start bleating real hard at their representatives – not only on polling day….rather than at each other…but then again, sheep are normally very apathetic. Snafu!

      Have yourself a nice one Mick.

    • 0
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      grounded: Einstein once said that he was amazed that people kept doing the same thing and expecting a different result. Politics is not different. Rusted ons aside why do we expect dramatic changes when both sides are bad? Won’t happen until the day they BOTH get their marching orders.

    • 0
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      I can’t…..could never argue with that….

  5. 0
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    It seems the Libs and perhaps the Nats are the sort of people who really dislike the fine print, they seem to like the over view, the general gist of an idea but are very low on details that make are break what ever they decide to try next. I feel weary to think of the big pays they get, supposedly to run the country, instead they appear lazy, owing favors to big donations, and a penchant to hide the truth by hook or crook. We should never forget they work for the Australian people and as such should be accountable. Brandis, it is time to go. You have proven yourself to be an inappropriate person in terms of character for the role you weaseled your way into. My guess is on the back bench there are some more left leaning folks who will never get a chance to show their talents because of the strangle hold of far right creeps running the show because they have the numbers. Yuck, a pox on your houses.

    • 0
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      “We should never forget they work for the Australian people….”. Well that is the twist Linda. When you accept large donations you are not working for the people and when you lie act corruptly you think that you are God.
      All of the above is why this government needs to go and why even rusted on Liberals need to vote most of the front bench into retirement.
      We need (another) election.

  6. 0
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    I would love to see some proof that the libs are a broad church in terms of the composition of the cabinet. It is not there, while some brag about it!!

    • 0
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      No “church” at all as they are about as dishonest and corrupt a group of people you would ever see outside of a Mafia AGM.

    • 0
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      MICK, please support your accusations of dishonesty and corruption with some facts. Name some names at least. I feel you make a fool of yourself by making wild accusations when a lot of your posts make sense, even if I don’t always agree with them. I don’t think you need to descend to such gutter tactics.

    • 0
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      Not gutter tactics at all. Many pollies are liars and it is clear with both the Abbott and Turnbull crew that the truth is not within pretty well any of the front bench. Latest cab off the rank: George Brandis. A lying cretin caught out repeatedly.

  7. 0
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    The Senate is in CHAOS and Australians think American Politics in CHAOS.
    Malcolm Roberts was elected with 77 first preference votes… this is why we have CHAOS.
    The government told us before the election that being elected with only 77 votes was ridiculous and we needed a double dissolution to rectify the situation.
    The Chaos continues unabated !!!!

    • 0
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      Like they say on Survivor, the “Tribe has Spoken”. There are enough people in the electorate that think that just about anybody else could run Australia better than the ALP and /or the LNP these days. Thus we have the electoral result that was served up due to the recent double dissolution.

    • 0
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      Like they say on Survivor, the “Tribe has Spoken”. There are enough people in the electorate that think that just about anybody else could run Australia better than the ALP and /or the LNP these days. Thus we have the electoral result that was served up due to the recent double dissolution.

    • 0
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      Like they say on Survivor, the “Tribe has Spoken”. There are enough people in the electorate that think that just about anybody else could run Australia better than the ALP and /or the LNP these days. Thus we have the electoral result that was served up due to the recent double dissolution.

    • 0
      0

      Like they say on Survivor, the “Tribe has Spoken”. There are enough people in the electorate that think that just about anybody else could run Australia better than the ALP and /or the LNP these days. Thus we have the electoral result that was served up due to the recent double dissolution.

    • 0
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      Not too sure about that Retired. The voting was changed for the senate so that voters elected who they were giving their second and third preferences to so it should be legit as the deals are off in the Upper House….as they always should have been.

    • 0
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      What you have done Retired is to use quite legitimate numbers and then quote them out of context. The proper context is that we were allowed to either vote above the line for a party or below the line for an individual. One Nation attracted the 3rd highest vote in Queensland behind LNP and Labor with the Greens coming 4th. That’s the main reason that Roberts is there.

  8. 0
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    “CANBERRA IS SPIRALLING INTO CHAOS. SHOCK REVELATIONS’ really!!, emotive language really gets people going, huh! Shock, horror, Oh! well! it gives them something new to talk about in the media, after all, real news we never hear anymore. I’m sure Canberra will survive and so will our Parliament.

  9. 0
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    Obvious I know, but its disappointing the Senator Day knew it was not legal to rent an electoral office from his own company, but persisted with it anyway. He was eventually allowed to by a minister against the advice of the department – why did the minister allow it?…perhaps he should be accountable as well. The name Family First sounds like they are supposed to behave with higher standards??

  10. 0
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    Yet another politician caught doing the wrong thing…yawn

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