Marissa Calligeros Published: May 10, 2012
A Queensland driver has tried in vain to argue it is "impossible" for him to pay a speeding fine because the Australian constitution states the government can accept only coins made of gold or silver as payment for debts.
Indeed, section 115 of the Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act states: "The state shall not coin money nor make anything but gold and silver coin a legal tender in payment of debts."
Leonard William Clampett tested the weight of constitutional law in Brisbane Magistrates Court in September last year, after he was snapped by a speed camera driving at 73km/h in a 60km/h zone on Wardell Street, Enoggera.
He argued he could not pay a $200 speeding fine, because "there is no gold and silver coins in common circulation".
"It's logical when you look at the paramount legislation in this country, that no matter what money they [the police] request or you award them, I can't pay," he told Magistrate Sheryl Cornack.
"I haven't been able to pay a lot of things over the years. Fifteen years, I haven't paid any income tax because it's not possible to pay it.
"I haven't paid for instance a couple of companies. I haven't paid Crown Law Queensland $12,500 they claimed from me, because of section 115 of the Commonwealth Constitution.
"It is paramount law in this country, but somehow or other, certain people don't seem to catch onto that ...
"A state, as opposed to the Commonwealth, cannot compel you to pay in other than gold and silver coin. Fairly simple."
Police prosecutors called on an expert from Melbourne, who was required to travel to Brisbane and review the evidence, to confirm the roadside camera was working accurately when it photographed Mr Clampett speeding.
Despite his argument, Ms Cornack found Mr Clampett guilty and ordered he pay the $200 fine, as well as $76.90 in court costs.
She also ordered Mr Clampett pay police prosecution's out of pocket expenses, totalling $3500, in obtaining the expert witness.
But, three weeks later, Mr Clampett fought to have Ms Cornack's ruling overturned by the Supreme Court.
He applied for a judicial review on the grounds no court had previously defined the terms of the constitution.
"My claims, and the action sought based thereon, are as well for the Queen as for myself," Mr Clampett wrote in his application.
However, Supreme Court Justice Martin Daubney said the basis of Mr Clampett's argument "has long been discredited".
"None of the reasons advanced by the applicant amount to any good reason for having instituted the present application," he stated in a written judgment, published this week.
He did not comment further on Mr Clampett's argument regarding constitutional law.
Justice Daubney dismissed Mr Clampett's application.
This story was found at: http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/queensland/its-the-constitution-no-bullion-20120509-1ycw9.html