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|
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
FORMER HOWARD GOVERNMENT MINISTER WILL BE IN THE WITNESS BOX NEXT WEEK
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.|