Sunday, 30 November 2014

Peter Spencer: Court diary

The case Spencer v. Commonwealth of Australia began being heard in the Federal Court, Sydney on the 24th November, described as the biggest property rights case since Mabo.  

This post will feature the daily updates that Ian Hampton has been providing for the first week of the court case which will continue in the comment section below.

Please also check out a web page set up for Peter Spencer - Peter Spencer versus The Commonwealth
and also the Facebook page - Support Peter Spencer & Australian Farmers

Peter Spencer's farm in the high country in New South Wales, fondly named "SAARAHNLEE",
a combination of letters from his children's names. He no longer owns this farm having lost it in 2010

Day 1 of the trial 24th November

The most important event today was the opening statement by Mr Kirk, the barrister for the NSW Crown Solicitor's Office.

Two things stand out - BOTH respondents (Commonwealth and State) are flatly denying the existence of any informal agreement or understanding between the Commonwealth and the State beyond the applicable legislation and relevant published intergovernmental agreements. The thrust of the rest of his statement was that the State had the ability to restrict Spencer's ability to clear timber on his land under legislation that existed before the Commonwealth involvement in native vegetation legislation after Kyoto, and that consequently Clause 51 (XXXI) of the Constitution (Commonwealth must pay just terms compensation for property taken) does not "come into play"...

From what I can see - neither Peter or Alastair were fazed by Kirk's opening statement.

Day 2 of the trial 25th November

In his opening statement, Mr Lenehan for the Commonwealth covered pretty much the same legal ground as Mr Kirk did the day before for NSW.

By contrast, in his oral opening statement, Peter Spencer started with the Magna Carta and traced the evolution of freehold title in Australia back to the foundation of Government in 1840 .

Spencer then went through the history of international, national and state government agreements and legislation linking environmental issues and native vegetation. Spencer traced a line of continuity from the First International Conference on Environmental Issues in 1950 and its Native Vegetation Advisory Workshop through to 2003. Important steps along the way included the 1972 International Conference Declaration of the UN on Human Environment, the 1992 Rio Earth Summit (the UN Framework Conference on Climate Change) where Australia signed the treaty, the resulting 1992 National Strategy for Ecologically Sustainable Development (signed by PM Hawke) and the 1992 National Greenhouse Strategy which was endorsed by the Council of Australian Governments (COAG).

In effect, the intention to take the benefit arising from the sequestration of carbon, through the native vegetation legislation of 2003 as the primary mechanism for meeting Australia's greenhouse gas commitments, was the logical outcome of the 1992 strategy.

So, the three opening statements have been completed - GAME ON.

Tomorrow morning the Judge will decide which documents from both sides are in or out. The afternoon will be taken up with the expert witness evidence of Dr David Evans for Spencer and by Mr Sturgess, a senior bureaucrat for the Commonwealth.

Peter Spencer and Alastair McRoberts boarding the train after Day 2

Day 3 of the trial, Wed 26th November

Peter Spencer had a good day in court today. Just as important, Peter is growing in confidence and really finding his feet as a self litigant.

The day started with the Judge expressing concern about the unavailability of former Howard Government Minister, Dr David Kemp when the Spencer team attempted to serve him with a subpoena last week.

The CGS and NSW Crown Solicitor then tried to "knock out" all of Spencer's witnesses with case law. Justice Mortimer adjourned the hearing to consider these submissions. She returned after a short break to confirm that the evidence of the two expert witnesses on the UNFCCC National Carbon Accounting System, scheduled for today could go ahead. The examination of these two witnesses - Dr David Evans for Spencer and Mr Sturgess for the Commonwealth went well.

Justice Mortimer will announce her decisions about the remaining witnesses tomorrow morning.

A long way to go - but definitely as good day for Peter Spencer.

DAY 4 of the trial, Thursday 27th  November

Justice Mortimer "knocked back" only one of Peter Spencer's nominated witnesses, in response to submissions from the Commonwealth and NSW Crown Solicitor to "knock out" all of them. This does not substantially affect Peter's case - good news.

Since then, Peter has been in the witness box. At the end of the second session, Peter was still being cross examined by the CGS (for the Commonwealth) and NSW Crown Solicitor. Consequently, we are not allowed to report on any of this until after he completes his evidence - scheduled to be lunchtime tomorrow.

DAY 5 of the trial, Friday 28th November


Peter Spencer was cross-examined by the two barristers for the Commonwealth Government and the NSW Government until the end of the afternoon session. The cross examination is now over. Unfortunately, we can't report on this yet because Peter is still under oath. He is returning to the witness box on Monday, allowed 15 minutes to provide corrections to any mistakes he may have made in his oral evidence.

Next week will be mostly taken up with witness statements and cross-examination.

On Tuesday, Justice Mortimer will announce which documents from both sides are admissible and which are inadmissible based on the arguments from the opposing sides.

The Court has ordered that Dr David Kemp, former Howard Government Minister for Environment and Heritage contact Peter Spencer about his availability to appear as a witness next week.

The team: the extended Kennedy family, and supporters Dan and Jeannie Hughes.

Previous related posts

Friday, 21 November 2014

The Federal Government can’t take your assets without paying - “bigger than Mabo”

Peter Spencer - who spent 52 days up a tree protesting the usurping of his "kyoto" trees on his own property....The Native Vegetation Acts were brought in by the states to stop farmers clearing native plants — but no compensation was ever paid to farmers.....however......The Commonwealth is not allowed to confiscate assets without due compensation...

Peter Spencer is doing this on behalf of all property owners in Australia and is determined not to give in.

Hat/Tip: Joanne Nova.

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Wake Up Australia

by Viv Forbes
Today is Remembrance Day, an appropriate time to reflect on our ability to defend ourselves.

History holds lessons.
Back in Dec 1941, Japan suddenly attacked the huge US Naval base at Pearl Harbour. Three days later, two “invincible” British warships, “Repulse” and “Prince of Wales” were sunk by Japanese planes off Malaya. Soon Japanese armies were rampaging through Asia towards Australia. By Feb 1942, the British fortress of Singapore surrendered and Japanese bombs were falling on Darwin. By Sept 1942 the Japanese army had slashed their way down the Kokoda Track and could see the lights of Port Moresby. They were looking across Torres Strait to Australia. At that time, most of our trained soldiers were fighting Rommel in North Africa or in Japanese prison camps.

Suddenly Australia was on its own and needed to defend itself with what we had here. Armies need soldiers, weapons, bullets, vehicles, fuel, food (and cigarettes).

Rationing was introduced for petrol, food and cigarettes. An immediate critical shortage was copper for cartridge cases - we had mines producing lead, zinc, silver, gold and iron, but there was a critical shortage of copper.

The mill, Mt Isa, R Emerson Curtis, Australian War Memorial

Fortuitously, just before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour, an exploration drill hole at Mount Isa had struck rich copper ore.

Mount Isa was called on to avert a calamitous shortage of copper in Australia. With government encouragement, Mount Isa Mines made the brave decision to suspend the profitable silver/lead/zinc operations and convert all mining and treatment facilities to extracting copper.

The lead concentrator could be converted to treat copper ore, but the biggest problem was how to smelt the copper concentrates. Luckily the company had skilled engineers and metallurgists in the lead smelter. In a miracle of improvisation, scrap steel and spare parts were purchased and scavenged from old mines and smelters from Cloncurry, Mt Elliott, Mt Cuthbert and Kuridala and cobbled into a workable copper smelter. In 1943 the first Mount Isa blister copper was produced. Production continued after the war when Mount Isa returned to extracting the then more profitable silver/lead/zinc. Later new plant was built enabling both lead and copper to be produced from this fabulous mine.

This story of the importance of self-reliance has lessons for today.

The war on carbon energy, the carbon tax, the renewable energy targets, escalating electricity costs and the voices in Parliament calling for Emissions Trading Schemes have all unnerved our big users of carbon fuels and electricity. Smelting and refining have become threatened industries in Australia, and closure of the Mount Isa copper smelter and the Townsville copper refinery has been foreshadowed. Already six major metal smelting/refining operations have closed in Australia this century and more are likely. The closures have affected copper, lead, zinc, steel and aluminium – the sinews of modern industry. And the car industry, with all its skills and tools, is closing

Mt Isa mines sourced Herald Sun

Local production and refining of oil is also declining, while anti “fossil fuel” vandals are trying to 
prevent domestic exploration and production. More and more land and offshore waters are closed to exploration and mining, and heavy industry is scorned. It was estimated recently that by next year, half of Australia’s oil refining capacity will have closed. In the event of a disruption to tanker routes, Australia has just 12 days of diesel supplies before city fuel and food supplies start to dry up.

We are losing the resources, skills and machinery needed for our own security, while we fritter precious resources on green energy, direct action, carbon capture and storage and other pointless anti-carbon chimeras.

Our foolish green energy policies and the suicidal war on carbon fuels are killing real industry leaving us unskilled and defenceless – like a fat toothless walrus basking on a sunny beach.

Wake up Australia.

 Viv Forbes,
Rosewood    Qld   Australia

For those who would like to read more:

Australian Fuel supplies very vulnerable to disruption. Food and fuel Chaos within days:

“Mines in the Spinifex – the Story of Mount Isa Mines” by Geoffrey Blainey, Angus and Robertson, 1960

“The Challenge of Standing on the Shoulders of Giants” by Collin Myers, Congress of the International Mining History Association, Charters Towers, 2014.

Disclosure: Viv Forbes is a geologist, financial analyst and farmer. He has spent a lifetime working in various roles and places including Rum Jungle, El Sherana, Mt Isa, Goonyella, Blackwater, Nebo, Brisbane and Sydney. He is a non-executive Director of a small Australian coal exploration company and, with his wife Judy, breeds cattle and sheep at Rosevale in Queensland. He was the founder of the Carbon Sense Coalition.


Sunday, 9 November 2014

Peter Spencer: Farm associations where is your support now?

Farm associations were very supportive of the Peter Spencer case back in 2010 but now at the very crucial time of the final court case starting November 24 2014 any support from these farm organisations is conspicuous by its absence.
Letter to the editor, The Land, Nov 6 2014
Wally Mitchell in his letter mentions the NSW ABC Country Hour interview with Hugh Nivison, Chairman of the Trust administering the Australian Farmers Fighting Fund (AFFF).

Recently in my role as chair of Property Rights Australia I was informed by a member who spoke with the AFFF secretary and that upon inquiring why AFFF was not backing the Peter Spencer case with funding was told that,
"they were prepared to support him but he to date had not accepted their offer”
The response from the Peter Spencer team upon being informed of how AFFF were deflecting any heat from their lack of action was,
"There has been no offer from AFFF to Spencer to resume funding of the case.  Spencer is providing some documents to AFFF relating to the case requested, by them. "
This is worst than just being unhelpful.
NFF president David Crombie.
NFF president in 2010, David Crombie
photo sourced The Land
The 9th August 2010 media release by NFF president David Crombie, Farmers’ property rights under siege . Earlier in March 2010 David Crombie made strong statements in the article, Families and natural justice suffer as property rights usurped.  

“It’s a perfect scam where state and federal governments use their respective powers in concert to effect property takeover but avoid paying ‘just terms’ compensation. Enough is enough."

Peter Spencer needs your support, to learn how you can help please read the following article: