Peter Spencer (farmer)

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Peter Spencer (born 1948 or 1949) is an Australian farmer who came to national prominence after going on hunger strike in November 2009. He had been prevented from clearing "native vegetation" from his sheep farm in New South Wales and he said that this had caused severe financial difficulty.[1]

Spencer's use of his land was restricted due to Australia's commitments to the Kyoto Protocol. He was refused compensation for his land being declared a carbon sink as it was the New South Wales government, and not the federal government in Canberra, which had enacted the laws in question, which were intended to combat global warming.[2]

However, Spencer's family later stated:

"Native vegetation laws enacted over 10 years ago by State Governments (and certainly not the ETS proposals and "Carbon Sinks" which are a far more recent development) are not the sole reason for the collapse of Peter's farm, and really have had a very small part to play. For MANY reasons the farm has not been profitable for a long time. Peter spent several years in Papua New Guinea on various business ventures, including an advisory role to the PNG government of the time. During this time he was unable to look after the farm adequately, an issue that was clearly a product of his then circumstance."

Spencer spent 52 days suspended on a platform 15 meters above ground level. Spencer ignored a letter sent on behalf of the Prime Minister Kevin Rudd saying he did not believe it was from him.[3] However, he reportedly invited Bob Brown leader of the Green Party to debate human rights with him.[4]

The 61-year-old ended the strike after supporters worried for his health asked him to stop. In a statement he said, "As much as the nation is concerned about me, my concerns are directed at the families of the hundreds of farmers who have suicided and the politicians who have failed to show any concern, compassion or morality for what the government has done to these families and the nation’s Constitution. My committed stance on the tower was to press the point." [1]

Spencer was evicted from his property for failing to meet payments on loans from family members.[5] However, he was granted the right to appeal to the High Court to decide if he should be compensated by the Commonwealth for the property having been declared a carbon sink. The High Court declared that the Federal Court was wrong to have thrown out Mr Spencer's case for compensation on the basis he had "no reasonable prospect" of success.[6]


  1. ^ a b Rehn, Alison (13 January 2010). "Day 52 will be last for hunger striker". The Daily Telegraph (Sydney). News Limited. p. 1. Retrieved 28 August 2010.
  2. ^ Fitzgerald, Ross (27 March 2010). "Land rights under threat from the green lobby". The Australian. News Limited. p. 1. Retrieved 28 August 2010.
  3. ^ "Peter Spencer 'didn't believe letter was from Prime Minister'". Adelaide Now. News Limited. 14 January 2010. p. 1. Retrieved 28 August 2010.
  4. ^ Fryar, Jim; Liberal Democratic Party (16 August 2010). "Bob Brown should debate Peter Spencer". Sunshine Coast. Sunshine Coast. p. 1. Retrieved 28 August 2010.
  5. ^ Kerr, Christian (24 March 2010). "Landowners robbed of rights, say farmers". The Australian. News Limited. p. 1. Retrieved 28 August 2010.
  6. ^ [1]