Tag Archives: Peter Spencer

UPDATE, Spencer v. Commonwealth, Sunday 14 December

Now that the court hearings are over, I will not be making regular UPDATE “news” posts as over the last few weeks. I will however make posts whenever there is something significant to report.

I want to express my thanks to everyone who has followed and commented, and especially to those who donated to the PayPal account set up to fund the court case. You have all been part of an incredible piece of history, Peter Spencer has actually taken the Commonwealth and NSW State Governments to court, put them on trial and in the witness box. Almost unbelievable, and it is on-going – Peter and his team have to prepare and submit his final written submission by the 2nd February, 2015.

This is an on-going saga of epic proportions – you can bet that John Howard and Bob Carr did NOT see Peter Spencer coming while they were busy “cooking up” the 2003 NSW Native Vegetation Act. They simply would not have dreamt that this man (some kind of collateral damage to them), would take on their respective governments and their successors and persist and persist and persist. It would also not have been possible without the incredible support of a small group of dedicated supporters, especially the whole Kennedy family, Alastair McRobert, and Peter’s own family who have also paid a huge price. I apologise to anyone else I should have mentioned.

Getting the word out “there”, asking for and generating support has also been very important. In this regard I want to thank Dale Stiller and his Evacuation Grounds blog http://evacuationgrounds.blogspot.com.au/, Jo Nova http://joannenova.com.au/, SOS News http://www.sosnews.org/, and Bob Katter and Katter’s Australian Party http://www.kattersaustralianparty.com.au/


UPDATE Spencer v. Commonwealth of Australia, Friday 12 December

Please see Jessie Davies report on Peter’s final oral submission yesterday in The Land online….


There is also extraordinary irony in the front page article in today’s Sydney Morning Herald by Marcus Priest (from Lima) with the heading “Bishop seeks special deal on emissions”. The article deals with the negotiations now under way in climate change conference in Lima, Peru.

The article explains that Australia is pushing to have “land clearing changes”, that is another “Australia Clause” included in the Kyoto 2 (2013-2020) agreement.

Otherwise “Australia is threatening that it will not ratify Kyoto 2 if it does not get its way on targets.”

This is a carbon copy of the tactics adopted by the then Howard Government in the lead up to the 1997 Kyoto Protocol agreement. Australia’s “success” in getting the “Australia Clause” in the Kyoto Protocol led directly to the Howard Government “engineering” the much more restrictive 2003 NSW Native Vegetation Legislation and similar legislation in Queensland.

It is this legislation and the resulting theft of the stored carbon in the resulting trees by the Commonwealth (enabling Australia to meet its Kyoto commitments) that is at the root of Peter Spencer’s case against the Commonwealth and NSW.


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photograph – Peter Spencer and Alastair McRobert on suburban train after yesterday’s hearings

UPDATE, Day 6 of the trial, Monday 1 December

This morning, Peter Spencer had an opportunity today to correct any inconsistencies that came up in his examination last week. Peter had been under oath since last Thursday morning through to this morning. He coped with the grilling from the respondents’ senior counsel barristers who were determined to try and upset him.

Proceedings continued with three witnesses called by the State being government department employees. The cross examination of these witnesses was completed before the lunch break and the issue about the issued subpoena for Dr David Kemp was discussed.

Justice Mortimer issued an Order that former Howard Government Minister, Dr David Kemp appear as a witness.

The order followed a series of events:
• A subpoena was issued to Dr David Kemp dated 21 Nov, 2014. The attempts to execute the subpoena at that time failed when Dr Kemp’s office in Old Parliament House was approached.
• Last week, Justice Mortimer expressed her concern to the Commonwealth’s barrister about their knowledge of the situation. At the time making it clear that Dr Kemp’s availability was no reflection on the Australian Government Solicitor (AGS).
• The AGS indicated that it had been in contact with Dr Kemp.
• On Friday an order was made that Dr Kemp contact Peter Spencer as soon as possible.
• This morning Mortimer J was informed by submissions that Dr Kemp had not made contact with the applicant and sworn affidavits containing a number of events showing the difficulties while trying to serve the subpoena were handed to the Judge.

After some deliberations with the parties Justice Mortimer adjourned the Court hearing for 1½ hours while she reviewed the reasons for Dr Kemp being called as a witness.

Justice Mortimer returned and made orders:
1. The subpoena issued to Dr David Kemp dated 21 November 2014 be set aside.
2. Dr David Kemp attend at the trial of this proceeding on Thursday 4 December 2014 at 10.15 am, at Court 22B in the Federal Court of Australia, Law Courts Building, Queens Square, Sydney 2000.


 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.


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.


 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.