One Nation senator Rod Culleton — abandoned by his party today in the Senate — is being advised by a vexatious litigant who maintains that most higher courts in Australia, and perhaps even the Governor-General, lack constitutional authority.
Culleton has twice raised questions about the authority of the High Court, including in his first question in the Senate, about its failure to issues writs in the name of the Queen, and today in another letter to the Senate president accusing the High Court of procedural failings that rendered it illegal and requiring a recall of existing judges. Culleton again today raised the issue of the validity of the High Court in his speech on the referral of his eligibility to be elected to the Senate to the High Court.
Peter Gargan is an adviser to Culleton and is the source of the senator’s newly discovered scepticism of the validity of Australian courts. Gargan, who spoke to Crikey from Culleton’s Perth office, cheerfully acknowledges his status as a vexatious litigant — “in four jurisdictions”, he adds — and seems to regard his status as scars received in the pursuit of accessible justice. Unsurprisingly for a man declared a vexatious litigant in multiple jurisdictions, Gargan has left a long trail of litigation across Australia. A persistent theme of his court actions is a literal interpretation of the constitution — leading, in his view, to numerous failings of law and procedure that have rendered courts invalid. His record identifies other concerns as well. According to one affidavit attributed to Gargan,
“I am a Vexatious litigant in four jurisdictions, the State of Queensland, The State of New South Wales, The Commonwealth and the State of Victoria because I have strenuously objected to the establishment of a State Religion akin to Islam and the Roman Catholic Religion against which the English fought for six hundred and thirty two years, until an Atheist Labour Government in the United Kingdom subscribed to the Unidroit treaty in 1949 to reinstal Roman Catholic Continental values, by Rules of Court made by Judges universally, and as their first act made Australians aliens under English law, in abrogation of their Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act 1900, and require us to pay for a Passport and Visa to visit the United Kingdom.”
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In a submission to the Human Rights Commission apparently lodged by Gargan in 2009, he goes to great lengths to establish an analogy between the current “secularist” court system in Australia with the Catholic Church.
“The Law has become the religion of secularists, and like the Pre Christian Jews and Romans, the Lex Talionis, the law of an eye for an eye and a claw for a claw applies, in secularist Courts. Indulgences are bought and sold by lawyers, in the same way as the Pope in Rome sold indulgences, the only difference being that instead of a Roman Catholic Priest selling the indulgence on behalf of the Pope, as agent of Almighty God, it is the Judge on behalf of the State as Almighty God who gives value to the promise of a lawyers indulgence. The Judiciary have become the Abbots and Bishops of the New Secularity…”
Gargan has also raised the possibility that the governor-general, because he/she has not been paid in pounds as specified by the Constitution since the introduction of decimal currency, is not lawfully employed and that no legislation signed by the governor-general since 1966 has been lawful.
Gargan is also clearly frustrated that the courts are not more accessible — he discussed with Crikey both the High Court and the Federal Court, which he believes is wrongly exercising discretion not to hear constitutional cases, and also argues that civil litigants should have jury trials. Gargan is also keen to hear the High Court Registry’s response to Culleton’s question, which he says has been provided but is being held up by Attorney-General George Brandis.
The referral by the Senate to the High Court of Culleton’s eligibility to be elected was still being debated as of writing, but is inevitable. And it will occur with the support of Culleton’s party leader Pauline Hanson, who spectacularly threw her West Australian colleague under a bus this afternoon by agreeing his eligibility should be examined and acknowledging he “would not be happy” with her because of it.
Gargan may yet have the opportunity to pursue his view of the constitution further via Culleton’s coming legal journey.