He's the states' rights champion who (unsuccessfully) challenged Kevin Rudd's stimulus package in the High Court. Now, legal academic and ex-National Party officer Bryan Pape is the man behind the latest bid to have the carbon tax deemed unconstitutional.
Pape was a practicing barrister before joining the University of New England and supports constitutional measures such as splitting Australia into 20 states.
Until 2008, he was also chairman of the New England Federal Electorate Council of the National Party, which is battling pro-carbon tax independent MP Tony Windsor in the key rural seat.
This week, right-wing think tank the Institute of Public Affairs, a fervent opponent of the carbon tax, has released his legal opinion that the Commonwealth can't tax carbon emissions as they are state property.
"These greenhouse gases are property owned by the States and it is impermissible for the Commonwealth to impose any tax on any property of any kind belonging to a State," Pape wrote in a piece that has been published on the IPA website.
IPA staffer Tim Wilson hopes Pape's legal opinion will provide a sound base to overturn the case:
"The IPA commissioned a legal opinion because State governments have sat on their hands and let the Gillard government introduce a tax that they could potentially stop," he said in a statement.
It's not the first time Pape has looked to take on Canberra. In 2009, Pape mounted a solo challenge to the federal government's stimulus bonus, arguing that the $900 cheques were a gift, not a tax measure, and should be found unconstitutional. The court found in favour of the legislation 4-3.
Pape believes the case confirmed the authority of the Commonwealth to "usurp" the power of the states, including being able to make direct payments to local councils.
"I don't wish to overstate it, but I think it's probably one of the most important constitutional cases in 106 years of the High Court," Pape said at the time.
Pape is a long time believer in states' rights. In 2010 he ran as an independent for the Senate on a platform of sticking up for federalism, winning 0.01% of the vote.
Pape has also supported a Royal Commission into the creation of new states, arguing the size of Australia necessitates the need for more representative government. A research paper he wrote in 2006 cited a 1920 ALP proposal to divide the country into 31 states.
A model he supports involves around 20 states, which includes splitting New South Wales into three areas: Sydney, Wollongongong and Newcastle as one; the area of New England being another; and the Monaro, Riverina, Central West and Far West making up a third.