Peter Spencer: update

The Australian reports that an eviction order may be served on Peter Spencer for him to leave his farm:

AUTHORITIES are expected to serve an order taking possession of hunger-striking farmer Peter Spencer’s property, possibly as early as today.

The sheriff’s office is expected to serve a notice this week following legal proceedings by members of Mr Spencer’s family to sell the Shannons Flat farm, near the NSW town of Cooma, and recover a debt owed to them. If served today, the notice would coincide with a rally organised by Mr Spencer’s supporters. (source)

After my review of the judgments, my thoughts on the case are that Mr Spencer has been unable, and will in all likelihood continue to be unable, to convince the courts that there is the necessary link between a decision of  planning officers to decline development consent for land-clearing under the NSW Native Vegetation Act, and an intention by the Commonwealth government to deprive farmers nationally of their land to comply with the obligations of the Kyoto Protocol requiring compensation under section 51 (xxxi) of the Constitution. And nobody more than me would like to see this government held to account for that kind of action. In hindsight, Mr Spencer would probably have been well served to follow the Farmer Exit Assistance scheme, allow the sale of his farm to the Nature Conservation Trust, difficult though that surely would have been.

Whilst I, like anyone else following the story, have immense sympathy with Mr Spencer’s position, I cannot help feeling that the claims he makes about the “conspiracy” between the States and the Commonwealth to deprive farmers of their livelihood have little legal merit. I may yet be proved wrong, of course, if the decision in Arnold goes the other way, and Mr Spencer successfully obtains special leave to appeal to the High Court. I will update you about that as soon as it is published.


  1. David Cooke says:

    Quite correct. Historically, legal controls on native vegetation clearance in the various Australian jurisdictions predate Kyoto and all the nonsense about ‘global warming’ by many years.
    SA, for example, passed a Native Vegetation Act in the mid-1980s and the principle was being discussed for many years prior to that. This legislation was driven by a recognition that too much land had been cleared, leading to erosion, rising water tables, salinity and species loss.
    While Mr Spencer’s problems with the NSW Government are no doubt genuine and serious, he is doing himself a disservice by trying to link them to the Commonwealth’s current obsession with carbon dioxide.

  2. Colin J Ely says:

    Is not the purchase by the Farmer Exit Scheme just compulsory aquisition in favour of the Nature Conservation Trust, and is not that a private organisation?

    • @Colin: it’s not compulsory, because you can choose to accept or reject their offer of purchase, and the NCT isn’t a private organisation as such, it’s a not-for-profit organisation set up under a NSW statute (the Nature Conservation Trust Act 2001).

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