AEC discontinued case after ‘comprehensive search to locate’ former One Nation senator failed.
The Australian Electoral Commission has dropped a case against former far-right senator, Fraser Anning, because it has been unable to locate him.
In November the AEC brought an action seeking a penalty of up to $26,640 against Anning in the federal court for his alleged failure to lodge an annual financial return for the 2018-19 financial year, as required under electoral law.
On 16 February, the federal court granted leave to discontinue the case against Anning. An AEC spokesperson said “there was a comprehensive search undertaken to locate Mr Anning in Australia but when this failed the AEC asked the court to discontinue the proceedings”.
“As Mr Anning was unable to be located, is believed to be overseas, and has not responded to his phone or emails, substituted service would not have been effective,” the spokesperson said.
Anning is believed to be in the United States.
Despite discontinuing the matter, the AEC has a right to reinstate proceedings if he returns to Australia.
Anning was elected to the Senate in 2017 on the One Nation ticket by a recount after Malcolm Roberts’ disqualification, but left Pauline Hanson’s party to form the Fraser Anning Conservative National Party.
Anning’s time in the Senate was brief and controversial. After invoking the White Australia policy and calling for a “final solution” to immigration in his first speech, Anning is most famous for having an egg cracked on his head by a young anti-fascist protester. He failed to win re-election in 2019.
The Conservative National Party was deregistered in September after it failed to respond to an AEC notice questioning its party status after Anning lost his seat.
In the same month, Anning was announced as a founding member of the Institute for Populism and Economic Nationalism, alongside Trump White House chief strategist Steve Bannon and robot sex expert professor Adrian Choek.
Bendigo Bank subsidiary, ABL Nominees, reportedly had similar difficulties locating Anning during bankruptcy proceedings it brought against him in 2019.
Anning was declared bankrupt on 16 March 2020, the one year anniversary of his public egging.
A search of the national personal insolvency index on Friday confirmed Anning is still an undischarged bankrupt.
The AEC also started civil penalty proceedings for non-lodgment against three other candidates in the 2019 federal election.
The spokesperson said it “does not comment on any inquiries or investigations it may be undertaking” and “can’t comment” further on those cases.