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Sir Terence O'Rort
23 February, 2005  
Vexed Queenslanders

Heat can do dreadful things to the brain as an exploration of the Queensland Supreme Court vexatious litigants list reveals.


imageUp here in Queensland the heat does terrible things to people. The brain becomes soft and nuttiness takes hold.

An inspection of the Vexatious Litigants List published by the Queensland Supreme Court illustrates the point. This is a collection of heat-affected citizens who have, “frequently and without reasonable ground instituted vexatious legal proceedings”.

Here we find the redoubtable Dieter Soegemeier whose contention was that there was no valid Parliament, no valid Governor General and no properly appointed Prime Minister.

Harry Gibbs CJ, when throwing out this notion, thought that since it would logically follow from Dieter’s argument that there was no valid judiciary, and as he was still getting his High Court pay cheque each month, the applicant couldn’t possibly be right.

*A*lan George Skyring had the belief that the Commonwealth government never had power to issue paper money as legal tender, only coins. He got this unshakeably into his head after receiving a tax bill and although “Wild” Bill Deane dismissed it all in 1985 as a load of loose thinking, Skyring has persisted with the same argument in different guises for 20 years.

*D*onald James Cameron also features on the vexatious list. Cameron was charged with defrauding Custom Credit and Westpac and in 1991 was convicted and sentenced to four years jail on the Custom Credit counts and two years to be served concurrently on the Westpac counts. He appealed and was successful in overturning the Westpac conviction because he had been charged under an incorrect section of the Criminal Code.

This small victory prompted Cameron to commence a flurry of actions against Westpac and its employees involving litigation in the Magistrates, Federal and Supreme Courts in which it was alleged that the bank’s employees who had given evidence against him had committed perjury.

Cameron had no legal qualifications, nonetheless he described himself as “Director of Legal Services at the Beenleigh Community Legal Centre”. He appealed to the Court of Appeal against being declared a vexatious litigant and for good measure sought to be admitted as a barrister despite a lack of basic formal requirements.

The court dismissed the appeal and the application for admission with Mackenzie J finding that the evidence on the admission application, “highlights his long history of criminal conduct, especially for offences of fraud or dishonest”.

*J*ohn Garry Sargent bought a block of land on which there was an electricity easement for the purpose of erecting power lines. He commenced an action in the Land Court alleging the easement had caused him damage.

Unfortunately, this was the wrong place to commence his action and there followed a litigious journey throughout the Queensland court system culminating in a special leave application to the High Court.

The outline of Sargent’s argument by that stage suggested that the struggle over the easement was a matter of honouring the memory of those who gave their lives for this great country of ours:

“The judgment or orders by the lower courts appears to show disrespect to the ANZACs and all Australian men and women who gave their lives and served in the military forces defending the King and all property owners within the Commonwealth. Notwithstanding the members of the United States Army military forces who also gave their lives and served to protect the rights of property owners in Queensland. Lest We Forget.”

Sargent was refused special leave.

*R*ichard Stephen Gunter lived at Ipswich and was convicted in the Ipswich Magistrates Court of a number of minor traffic offences and was fined.

Rather than pay the fines Gunter went to the aforementioned Mr Skyring for legal advice and for him to appear as amicus curiae.

Magna Carta and the currency arguments were trotted out as bewildering reasons for not paying the traffic fines. Gunter also thought that if he issued a writ for both himself and the Queen that the job would be right. Unfortunately no one, except Skyring, agreed with this line of thinking.

*G*eoffrey James Bird who was declared a vexatious litigant on February 27, 2004.

His litigation initially concerned guardianship orders about the welfare of a chronic schizophrenic with whom Bird had lived for five years.

Bird had firm ideas about the Catholic and Uniting churches and he wanted orders that the members of any courts or tribunals dealing with his case be disqualified if they were members of those religious organisations or indeed had been educated within those faiths.

Subsequently Bird’s objections widened to any judicial officer, “who has any Jewish heritage”.

Bird wanted the tribunal in question to be composed of “people brought up in the Anglican, Lutheran or Mormon denominations”.

Unfortunately, someone other than Mr Bird was appointed guardian and administrator of the affairs of the schizophrenic. Our boy sought judicial review of the decision because the three tribunal members who heard the matter were of “obvious Irish Catholic appearance”.

Further, Bird said that when he went into the hearing room it was like “arriving at a Sein Fein press conference” and that having his application heard by the three purportedly Catholic members was like “having an application about an Albanian heard by three Serbs”.

Bird had some strange suggestions for the staff of the registry, writing to one of them in these terms:

“Quite apart from the remedy of applying for an order in the nature of Mandamus I would draw your attention to other remedies that are available. In particular, there is listing your name, residential address and photograph on an internet site What anti-corruption agencies, politicians and terrorists do with the information is not my concern. In a country with an increasing Lebanese style judicial system, one needs to have recourse to Lebanese style methods of getting one’s just desserts.”

Bird also drew up an arbitration agreement in which he provided that an essential qualification of the arbitrator was that he or she had “attended Boy Scouts or Cub Scouts or Girl Guides or Brownies for at least one year” or “anyone who has been a commissioned officer in the Rhodesian Army or the British South Africa Police before 1980”.

The Supreme Court thought that Bird had “a distorted view of the justice system” and declared him vexatious.

Possibly Queenslanders could draw inspiration from Theodore Rout who appeared before the Kirbster in the High Court.

Rout applied for leave to issue a petition challenging the result of the 2001 Federal election in the ACT seat of Fraser.

He claimed that he had invented a process of nuclear fusion by which small underground nuclear explosions would be harnessed to provide the world’s electricity.

imageThe petition also alleged that the former Chief Justice Brennan was “off with the late Mr Skase in Majorca” (seen here).

The Kirbster was completely puzzled by what all of this had to do with the election petition and gave Rout a final opportunity to state his case. The applicant said:

“I destroyed the ‘Big Bang’ theory. I destroyed it, it is an idiot’s concept, but yet they continue to maintain the ‘Big Bang’ theory that has credibility. It has no credibility, it is just total and utter rubbish. They have got space subject to matter, whereas matter is subject to space.”

Is Mr Rout a Queenslander, by any chance?