County Court hears pensioner's refusal to pay Wodonga Council’s ‘unconstitutional’ dog fee

A Wodonga dog owner has vowed to take his legal battle over a $22.50 council fee all the way to the High Court.

Jeffrey Sill, 70, believes the council does not have the power to charge him for owning Eckles the Corgi.

His argument is that Wodonga Council’s laws, and all others recognised under the constitution, are unlawful because the document was never signed by the Queen.

It was rejected in the Magistrates’ Court in December 2015 but Sill appealed the verdict and $289 fine for not paying the dog fee when appearing in Wodonga County Court on Tuesday.

“I didn’t intend to pay it because I introduced in that court the validity of the act,” Sill said.

“If we’re going to give up on the constitution, we may as well give up and walk into the bush.”

Judge Frank Gucciardo said he could not hear the case in the County Court because all his decisions have to be made on the basis the law is valid.

“You’re in the wrong court,” he said.

“As soon as you start arguing about the validity of the law, you have to go higher.”

The next step will be issuing an “order for review” with the Supreme Court, but Judge Gucciardo warned the case might have to go to the High Court, which made rulings about the law.

“If you fail in this, the costs against you will be much more substantial – more than registering a dog,” he said.

But Sill was not persuaded, saying he would “go as high as I have to go” and planned to have the new application completed within a week.

He said he did not need legal advice for the case.

Prosecution counsel Basil Stafford said Wodonga Council was concerned about the outstanding dog fees, which had not been paid since 2014. “This ultimately falls on the ratepayers and citizens,” he said.

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