CARAVAN dweller Roland Gopel has vowed to fight
rather than cough up thousands of dollars in fines imposed on him while
living on his own land in the middle of nowhere.
WA's Shire of Menzies argues that 58-year-old Mr Gopel's lack of running
water and sewage disposal facilities,
together with the dilapidated state of his property,
had left him in breach of regulations.
It has been fining him $50 a day since last August and
has taken him to court
where he was handed a $1000 fine for allegedly
falling foul of the state's strict
Caravan Parks and Camping Grounds Act.
Mr Gopel told media outside the Leonora Magistrates Court that he would
refuse to pay a fine "just for living".
"We're Australians, we do not have to do as we're told for the sake of
doing as we're told," he said.
be ashamed of themselves'
"I told the building inspector and the shire president that they should be
ashamed of themselves."
More than 2000 people have now signed an online Change.org petition
backing Mr Gopel.
One supporter who signed stressed that Mr Gopel's property was not in a
"It is a desert with a population of less than 100," wrote Bo Russell.
"There is no queue of people clamouring to live there, no basic facilities
supplied or available and his block should never have been zoned
residential in the first place.
"The council is hell bent on creating more homelessness."
Mr Gopel, who admits "being a nerd and a greenie of a
fashion", found himself in strife with officialdom after buying his
own patch of paradise on top of a hill overlooking the township of Menzies,
730km inland from Perth.
He paid $4500 for the quarter-acre block and had settled down to a life of
peace and freedom.
But it wasn't long before the council came knocking.
"I'm going to appeal," Mr Gopel, who graduated from the
University of New England with a Bachelor of Computer Science degree,
said on his Facebook page.
"Its almost as though officialdom is pushing for a civil war, just like
what happened in England some 400 years ago.
"The end of that war saw the king beheaded for his crimes and the rise of
the English Bill of Rights, which we in Australia have inherited.
"I'm wondering if there might be a class action that might put our
politicians on notice."