Monday, 25 June 2018

Peter Spencer's background story Part 2 of 3

“In recent decades, thousands of farms have become economically marginal and have gone out of business. What is not widely known is that this “marginality” has often been the result not of market forces but of government regulation. In particular, governments in pursuit of urban green votes have imposed a vast range of devastating new costs on farmers”
Peter Spencer wrote this in 2006 after he commenced legal action in 2005 for just compensation, unable to re-clear his farm to bring it back into productivity.
On 22 November, 2009 after reportedly 200 court events and the threat of bank foreclosure on his property, Peter climbed up a wind-monitoring tower on his property (later dubbed “The Tower of Hope) and commenced a hunger strike.

Chris Berg’s article, ‘Lost property: home in deed but not in fact’ published 10th Jan 2010:
“NSW farmer Peter Spencer is coming up to the 50th day of his hunger strike. Spencer is arguing that he should be adequately compensated for native vegetation regulations that prevent his chopping down trees on his land.
Tower of Hope, photo sourced ABC

The Government hasn't literally taken Spencer's property away. He hasn't been kicked off: he's still allowed to wander his land at his leisure. He still holds the title. But his right to use the land has definitely been taken. And if Spencer is not compensated for this regulatory taking, how is it much different from legalised theft?

Peter Spencer's hunger strike in defence of his human right to property is drastic and dangerous. We can only hope it won't be tragic. But his desperation must make us rethink our attitude towards this essential, but increasingly neglected, human right.”

Two days later Peter Spencer ended the hunger strike. His drastic action achieved 3 results. On Feb 2nd 2010 the Property Rights Rally was held on in Canberra, attended by thousands of farmers, with Alan Jones as MC. Following the February Rally came the Senate Inquiry into Native Vegetation Laws, Greenhouse Gas Abatement and Climate Change Measures. The inquiry received almost 400 submissions. The Report was completed in April 2010, and received support from both Labor and Coalition Senators, although to date it has not been acted upon. Importantly avenues to pursue the legal case were opened.

Alan Jones with Peter Spencer at the Property Rights rally, Canberra Feb 13, 2010
On Wednesday 1 September 2010, the Full Bench of the High Court held that the case Spencer v Commonwealth of Australia should not have been summarily dismissed in the Federal Court in March 2009 on the grounds that Mr Spencer had "no reasonable prospect" of successfully prosecuting the proceedings (under section 31A of the Federal Court of Australia Act).

This allowed Peter’s legal battle to continue.

Further reading
'Peter Spencer' by Justin Jefferson 

Peter Spencer's background story Part 1 of 3

Peter Spencer's background story Part 3 of 3

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