Protesting Australian Farmer Ends 52-day Hunger Strike

by Gopalan on  January 13, 2010 at 9:21 AM Environmental Health
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 Protesting Australian Farmer Ends 52-day Hunger Strike
New South Wales farmer Peter Spencer has ended his 52-day hunger strike, coming down from a suspended platform on his property.

He was protesting against state laws which stopped him clearing native vegetation on his land, and says he'll continue to fight his cause.

His supporters previously said he was prepared to die for his cause, but a spokesman for Mr Spencer, 61, said he would come down on medical advice this morning. Mr Spencer's doctor had become increasingly worried about his electrolyte levels and other developing medical issues.

''The doctor has strongly recommended that Spencer end his hunger strike. Following this recommendation and the call from Australians across the nation, Spencer has decided to come down from his platform. He will be hospitalised until the doctors are satisfied that his body is functioning normally again. He is still mentally strong and alert,'' the spokesman said.

Anyway he has exposed the plight of farmers' property rights, they say now.

His spokesman Alistair McRobert said, "On day 52 of his hunger strike, which was initiated to correspond with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) at Copenhagen, Peter Spencer comes down from the suspended platform part way up a wind monitoring tower on his Shannon's Flat property "Saarahnlee" near Cooma, NSW."

Mr Spencer accuses the Federal Government of locking up his land to meet Kyoto emissions targets and not adequately compensating him for it.

He is calling for a Royal Commission into farming regulations, and he also wants over 10 billion dollars in for farmers unable to clear land for agricultural work as their trees were claimed by the federal government as carbon sinks for reducing carbon emissions from industry.

Spencer is arguing that he should be adequately compensated for native vegetation regulations that prevent his chopping down trees on his land.

He says that Federal Government has declared his 5,385 hectare property a carbon sink without compensating him. Peter had never wanted to clear his land, but under the vegetation management act the entire property is rendered off limits to any form of development.

These effected Australian farmers have been responsible for virtually the entire burden of the Nation's greenhouse gas emission reductions but their efforts worth billions of dollars have not been recognized or financially rewarded.

But native vegetation laws are state laws, and state constitutions don't require state governments to pay just compensation for property they take. Spencer points out these laws were enacted at the behest of the Federal Government, allowing Canberra to meet its Kyoto greenhouse emissions targets without the hassle of paying those who own the native vegetation carbon sinks.

Mr Spencer's daughter Sarah says the family is proud of him, but are happy to have him back on the ground."

''The Australian people are starting to say we've had enough of being signed up to these agreements, where you get the kudos, or the happy clapping in Bali or some conference, but the bill goes home to the working families, the bill goes home to the family farm,'' opposition finance spokesman Senator Barnaby Joyce said.

But not everyone seems excited. Like Graham Spencer, Peter Spencer's brother, who says  many did not know the full story.

His brother's protest was against strictions on land clearing, imposed as greenhouse gas abatement measures.

But Graham Spencer said his brother owed "more than a million dollars" to a family member after being given a loan to prevent the bank seizing his farm. "Peter doesn't owe money to the bank, but to the family," Graham Spencer said.

The Australian also revealed a previous incident occurred in August 1970 following the breakdown of Mr Spencer's first marriage and was an attempt to "get some attention".

Mr Spencer reportedly suffered a minor bullet wound to his chest, believed to be self-inflicted.

Source: Medindia

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