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Sunday, August 7, 2016

Possible Sovereign Citizen Elected to Australian Senate

Just when you thought that this blog was now solely focused on the legal intricacies of Pokemon Go...

Through my Google Alert for "sovereign citizen" I learned about an unusual story out of Australia. The Sydney Morning Herald reports:
One of Australia's new senators, One Nation's Malcolm Roberts, sent a bizarre affidavit to then prime minister Julia Gillard in 2011 demanding to be exempt from the carbon tax and using language consistent with the "sovereign citizen" movement.

. . .

Anti-government, self-identified "sovereign citizens" claim to exist outside the country's legal and taxation systems and frequently believe the government uses grammar to enslave its citizens. 
NSW Police say such people "should be considered a potential terrorist threat". 
. . .

In the document, Mr Roberts demanded to be exempted from the carbon tax and compensated to the tune of $280,000 if Ms Gillard did not provide "full and accurate disclosure" in relation to 28 points explaining why he should not be liable for the tax.
Mr Roberts addressed the affidavit to "The Woman, Julia-Eileen: Gillard., acting as The Honourable JULIA EILEEN GILLARD" and presented her with a detailed contract he expected her to sign.

Here is the "affidavit."

Roberts denies ties to the sovereign citizen movement, despite writing his name as: "Malcolm-Ieuan: Roberts.," referring repeatedly to himself as a "living soul," labeling the government as a corporation (but not a corporation listed in the United States of America securities exchange), and noticing his "non-acceptance," of being subject to various taxes. All of these features of the letter are flags for the sovereign citizen movement, particularly the unusual focus on contract law.

More coverage of Roberts denying affiliation with the sovereign citizen movement can be found here and here. It should be noted that Roberts also thinks that a "small cabal" of banks (and the United Nations) are behind the view global warming exists. His party, One Nation, espouses nationalism, opposes multiculturalism, and condemns immigration.

I do not find Roberts's denial plausible. I can imagine a situation where one espouses views in a letter or blog post that incidentally overlap with a person, political party, or organization that one does not agree with. But Roberts's letter contains very specific language, punctuation, and fixations on contracts that are trademarks of the sovereign citizen movement. Roberts admitted that he wrote the letter. And Roberts (to my knowledge) has not yet explained why he used the peculiar phrasing in the letter.

Possibly the best evidence that Roberts is not a sovereign citizen is the fact that he now holds elected office in a government that most sovereign citizens would claim lacks any legitimacy whatsoever. I hope that Roberts is pressed with more specific questions on his letter and sovereign citizen affiliations, and I will be watching his career with great interest.

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