An ex-One Nation senator had a tense standoff with police while attempting to reclaim his family farm using “common law sheriffs”.
Rod Culleton’s battle to overturn a decade-old foreclosure came to a crescendo on Wednesday when he and about 50 supporters came face-to-face with several police units blocking access to the farm.
The former politician was flanked by “common law sheriffs” who claimed they were the “court of superior jurisdiction” and wished to present Western Australia Police with evidence the farm belonged him.
Members of farming advocacy group Rural Action Movement, which Mr Culleton is apart of, were also present at the standoff.
Mr Culleton’s old farm just outside the small country WA town of Williams, 161km south-southeast of Perth, was foreclosed on by Permanent Custodians, a trustee of ANZ, which obtained a judgment against the owners in 2013.
The Culletons failed twice to have it set aside.
After numerous failed attempts through the courts, it now appears Mr Culleton is exploring an alternative route to claim back his foreclosed farm.
On October 5, less than a week before Wednesday’s standoff, Mr Culleton and a “common law sheriff” associate travelled to the farm fence line where they claimed to have served the trusties and placed “Sheriff Notices” on the gates informing the trusties 28 days to vacate.
In a Facebook live post on the GAP page, as they posted the notices, Mr Culleton’s associate said “common law Jury” of 30 jurors found there was a miscarriage of justice relating to the foreclosure on the farm.
“It has been proved beyond a doubt that the property has been removed without lawful due process,” the so-called Sheriff said.
“We’re going in under common law jurisdiction, not Australian law,” Mr Culleton said.
The Sheriffs enlisted by the former senator form part of a group called the “Sovereign Peoples Assembly of Western Australia”.
Its website states, “This site is a starting point for those who are wanting to learn, educate and return to Common Law and Rule of Lore/Law: All Are Equal Before the Law.”
The website shows the SPAWA launched in September 2021, with its Sheriffs introduced in January 2022.
It claims to have branches in Perth, Bunbury, Geraldton and Albany.
“We encourage you to access the common law reference materials,” the website reads.
A WA Police spokeswoman told news.com.au there were no incidents or arrests during the standoff.
“On Wednesday 11 October 2023, a 59-year-old man attended a property he used to own on McKenzie Road in Williams, expressing his desire to get the property back,” she said.
“Approximately 40 to 50 people also gathered on the property in support of this.”
Speaking in a Facebook live video after Wednesday’s farm standoff with police, Mr Mr Culleton described the interaction with police as “confronting”.
“There were 49 Police officers there on a civil matter. I’m not sure why they were there guarding everything because nothing had happened,” he told his followers.
“This is a great step. We’ve kicked the can right down the road.”
“The lawful advice (under common law) has given me a clear run home to return to my property.”
He said he had presented police with evidence, which he claims proves the farm is still his and cites senate inquiries and royal commissions into the banking sector.
“We need to protect all landowners from the atrocities of financial industries,” Mr Culleton told his followers.
The grain farmer turned politician was elected as a Senator for Western Australia on July 2016 on Pauline Hanson’s One Nation ticket.
In December that year, Mr Culleton resigned from One Nation, stating a lack of support from the party and “un-Australian behaviour” as the reasons. Party leader Pauline Hanson welcomed his departure, labelling Mr Culleton “a pain in my backside”.
His time in office ended less than a month later when the High Court ruled in January 2017 that his election was invalid due to a conviction.
In the years following his departure from the Senate, Mr Culleton launched the Great Australian Party (GAP), which has yet to field a representative in Government and involved himself in farmer advocacy, including for others who had their farms seized.
News.com.au has contacted Mr Culleton for further comment via GAP.