The Australian Electoral Officer (AEO) for Western Australia (WA) today declared all candidates for the election of Senators for Western Australia in the 2022 federal election in accordance with the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 (Electoral Act).
Mr Rodney Culleton was among those candidates declared. This follows his lodgement of a fully completed nomination form and mandatory qualification checklist, together with the requisite $2,000 fee, before the close of nominations 12 midday on Thursday 21 April 2022. Mr Culleton’s nomination declared that he was not an undischarged bankrupt or insolvent.
The provisions of the Electoral Act do not give the AEC or any AEC officer the power to reject a fully completed candidate nomination, regardless of whether any answer to a question of the qualification checklist is incorrect, false or inadequate (see section 170A, Electoral Act). This means the AEC cannot reject a nomination even if it contains a false declaration as to the eligibility of that person to stand for election.
The AEC notes Mr Culleton is listed on the National Personal Insolvency Index as an undischarged bankrupt. It appears therefore that he may have made a false declaration as part of his nomination process. The AEC has referred this matter to the Australian Federal Police for their consideration.
Under section 44(iii) of the Constitution: “Any person who is an undischarged bankrupt or insolvent, shall be incapable of being chosen or of sitting as a senator or a member of the House of Representative.”
The AEO WA will proceed with the election of Senators for Western Australia, as declared, and Mr Culleton’s name will appear on the WA Senate ballot paper in the 2022 federal election.
If the AEC is presented with compelling evidence that other candidates in the 2022 federal election may have also signed a false declaration we will consider whether similar referrals to the AFP are warranted to ascertain if the candidate has committed an offence.
Intending candidates must make themselves aware of the operation of section 44 of the Constitution which includes the following.
s44 Disqualification: “Any person who: (iii) is an undischarged bankrupt or insolvent; shall be incapable of being chosen or of sitting as a senator or a member of the House of Representatives.”