Principality of Hutt River
|Principality of Hutt River
Motto: Dum Spiro Spero
"While I Breathe, I Hope"
Anthem: "It's a Hard Land" by Keith Kerwin
|Ethnic groups||Anglo-Celtic Australians, Australian Aborigines (Nunda Tribe)|
|Prince Graeme I|
|21 April 1970|
|75 km2 (29 sq mi)|
|30 full time residents,
|Purported currency||Hutt River Dollar, tied 1:1 with Australian Dollar|
The Principality of Hutt River is a micronation in Australia. The principality claims to be an independent sovereign state and to have achieved legal status on 21 April 1970. The principality is located 517 km (354 mi) north of Perth, near the town of Northampton in the state of Western Australia. It has an area of 75 square kilometres (29 sq mi), making it larger than several independent countries.
The Principality of Hutt River is a regional tourist attraction, and issues its own currency, stamps, and passports (which are not recognised by the Australian Government or any other government). The micronation was founded on 21 April 1970 by Leonard Casley, who declared his farm to be an independent country under the name Hutt River Province. He attempted to secede from Australia over a dispute surrounding wheat production quotas. A few years later, Casley began styling himself Prince Leonard and granting family members royal titles, although he did not include the word "principality" in his country's official name until 2006.
On 1 February 2017, at the age of 91 and after ruling for 45 years, Prince Leonard announced he would shortly be abdicating the throne, handing over to his youngest son, with his youngest son Prince Graeme taking over the throne on 15 February 2017.
- 1 History
- 2 Statistics
- 3 Casley family
- 4 Currency
- 5 Status
- 6 See also
- 7 References
- 8 Sources
- 9 External links
||This section contains weasel words: vague phrasing that often accompanies biased or unverifiable information. (February 2017)|
The Principality of Hutt River was declared an independent province in 1970 by Leonard Casley, in response to a dispute with the government of Western Australia over what the Casley family considered draconian wheat production quotas. The Casley farm had around 4,000 hectares (9,900 acres) of wheat ready to harvest when the quotas were issued, which allowed Casley to sell only 1,647 bushels or approximately 40 hectares (99 acres). Initially, the five families who owned farms at Hutt River banded together to fight the quota, and Casley lodged a protest with the Governor of Western Australia, Sir Douglas Kendrew. The Governor did not assist. Casley believed that because the Governor acts as the Queen's representative, this made Her Majesty liable, in tort, for applying an unlawful imposition as the quota had not yet been passed into law. Casley lodged a claim under the law of tort for A$52 million in the belief the claim would force a revision of the quota. Casley also makes claims to have used the law of unjust enrichment to successfully seize government land surrounding his farm which he hoped would increase his quota, though it is unclear how the law of unjust enrichment could have assisted him to achieve this.
Two weeks later, Casley claims the government introduced a bill into Parliament to "resume" his and the other families' lands under compulsory acquisition laws. After approaches to the government to reconsider the acquisition bill failed, Casley and his associates resorted to international law, which they felt allowed them to secede and declare their independence from the Commonwealth of Australia. Casley has said that he nonetheless remains loyal to Queen Elizabeth II.
Casley claims that the Government of Western Australia determined it could do nothing about his purported secession without the intervention of the Commonwealth (although that seems inconsistent with other acts of that Government at this time, such as successfully prosecuting Casley for conducting a shop without a permit). The Principality also claims that the Governor-General of Australia, Sir Paul Hasluck, later stated that it was unconstitutional for the Commonwealth to intervene in the secession, although it is not clear how it could have been unconstitutional, nor is it clear why the Governor-General would be proffering opinions on constitutional law. In correspondence with the Governor-General's office, Casley says he was on one occasion inadvertently addressed as the "Administrator of the Hutt River Province". Casley believes this constitutes legally binding recognition of the Province. He apparently reasoned this from the fact that the Governor-General is, via Royal Prerogative, the Queen's representative. It is also alleged that Prime Minister William McMahon threatened Casley with prosecution for "infringement of territory", although that is not and has not been a crime under any Australian law, so it is impossible this could be true. After this supposed threat, Casley styled himself "His Majesty Prince Leonard I of Hutt". Casley did this because he believed this would enable him to take advantage of the British Treason Act 1495, which provides that the de facto king of a nation could not be guilty of treason in relation to any act against the lawful king and that anyone who interfered with that monarch's duties could be charged with treason. Given that Casley has never claimed to be the de facto monarch of Australia, and there is certainly no argument that Casley is in fact the de facto king of Australia, it is difficult to understand how Casley's interpretation could be correct. Nonetheless, Casley believes that the Governor-General's inadvertent reference to Casley as "Administrator of Hutt River" on one occasion means that this Treason Act is applicable, and Casley says he continued to sell his wheat in open defiance of the quota. Although the law in this matter has since changed, Casley believes that the Australian Constitution prevented its retrospectivity and the Principality claims the Australian Government has not taken any action against Hutt River since the declaration, although that claim is demonstrably false. Casley believes that under Australian law the federal government had two years to respond to Casley's declaration, although there appears to be no basis for this belief. Casley says the failure to respond gave the province de facto autonomy on 21 April 1972. Casley accepts that the Western Australian state government can still dispute the secession.
On 15 February 1977, Casley was successfully prosecuted for failing to comply with requirements to furnish the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) with required documents. This action contradicts many of Casley's claims that the Australian Government has somehow acquiesced to the secession of the Principality.
On 2 December 1977 the province officially declared war on Australia. Leonard Casley notified authorities of the cessation of hostilities several days later. Casley then wrote to the Governor-General and asserted that: "Sovereignty is automatic to a country undefeated in a state of war...and if the state of war is not recognized by the other party, once the notice is given then these conventions apply to their relations." Casley believes that he had effectively set a persuasive precedent for international recognition of Hutt River under the Geneva Conventions. It is unclear why Casley believes this, as the Geneva Conventions do not say anything about the recognition of sovereign states.
Casley claims that in 1980, the Principality's mail service was restored after a Perth court ruled that Hutt River currency and postage stamps were valid and legal within the principality. It is unclear why a Perth court would ever have been called upon to rule upon such a matter. It is also unclear as to what it means to say that Hutt River currency and stamps are legal "within the Principality", given that the Principality is, of course, simply one farm. In any event, this claim is directly contradicted by published statements of the Australian Government to the effect that Hutt River currency is not in fact legal tender in any sense.
In 1978, Casley appealed a conviction for conducting a shop on his property without a permit to the Supreme Court of Western Australia. His appeal was dismissed, except to alter the penalty. It is notable that Casley did not appear to raise any issue about his land not being subject to Australian law in that appeal. It is also noteworthy that the fact the Western Australian Government prosecuted him for this act appears to contradict claims that the Western Australian Government believed it could do nothing about the Province's alleged secession. This act certainly suggests the State did not believe the Principality had validly seceded.
In 1970 and 1984, Casley unsuccessfully defended civil legal actions brought against him by private parties - in the former case, an injunction was granted against him in relation to a land deal, and in the latter case, he was ordered to pay money due to a publishing company who he had contracted to publish a book entitled 'The Man', which was about himself and his achievements in establishing the Principality of the Hutt River. In none of these cases did Casley suggest he was not subject to the jurisdiction of the courts of Australia.
In about 2006, Casley was again successfully prosecuted by the ATO. He appealed to the High Court of Australia, but his appeal was dismissed.
Casley claims that the ATO sent a new tax demand in 2012 to which he responded with a legal document supporting status as a "foreign national and non-resident of Australia." Despite Casley's two convictions for tax offences, the Principality continues to claim that its residents are still required to lodge income tax forms but are classed by the ATO as non-residents of Australia for income tax purposes; thus income earned within the province is exempt from Australian taxation. There is no evidence for this claim other than documents which Casley has provided, one of which the Australian Government has stated it considers to be a forgery (see below discussion). However, the ATO cannot verify or deny these claims as it cannot by law comment on the affairs of individuals. However, Casley has admitted to making annual payments to the Shire of Northampton, the local government authority, although he chooses to characterise these payments as "gifts". The province levies its own income tax of 0.5% on financial transactions by foreign companies registered in the province and personal accounts. While the principality maintains it does not pay taxes, the Australian government's current official position is that it is nothing more than a private enterprise operating under a business name.
In 2016, the ATO once again prosecuted Casley for tax offences. That proceeding is ongoing.
In the early 1980s, the Hutt River Province declared itself to be a kingdom, but soon after reverted to its original status of a principality. The principality proceeded to release a number of its own stamps and coins. In September 2006, Prince Leonard decided to change the name to "Principality of Hutt River" and dropped the word "Province".
In January 2017, Prince Leonard announced that, after ruling for 45 years, he would be stepping down as prince, to be succeeded by his youngest son, Prince Graeme. With a number of potential sons and daughters, the successor was nominated by the Prince and approved by a crown committee. Some commentary at the time had expected his older son, Prince Ian, to be the successor.
The Principality of Hutt River is situated 517 km (354 mi) north of Perth, along the Hutt River. It is about 75 square kilometres (29 sq mi; 19,000 acres) in size. Exports include wildflowers, stamps and coins and agricultural produce which is also exported overseas. Tourism is also important to the economy with 40,000 tourists, predominantly from overseas countries, visiting the principality every year.
While the principality has only 23 actual residents, it claims a worldwide citizenry of 14,000. The principality has no standing army, but a number of its citizens have been awarded military commissions. Honorary guardsmen attend Casley on formal occasions and, despite being completely landlocked, naval commissions have been conferred on supporters of the principality.
Since 2 September 2004, Hutt River Province/Principality has accepted company registrations. At least one company experienced in the registration of entities in traditional offshore jurisdictions (British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands etc.) as tax havens has been authorised to act as a registered agent for PHR incorporations. On 29 March 2005 the Hutt River Province International Business Company announced that it would accept registrations of company trusts which have since been promoted worldwide by registered financial agents. Concerned that Hutt River registrations "may be sold as part of a tax avoidance or evasion arrangement", in April 2012 the Australian Taxation Office warned potential purchasers that the registrations have no legal basis and "could be illegal". Hutt River also allows car registrations, including issuing license plates to overseas vehicles.
When the Principality of Hutt River seceded, a bill of rights, a brief document outlining the rights of "Hutt River" citizens, was drafted. It also provided for an administration board to govern the principality until a permanent form of government could be established. When Casley declared himself "Prince", the administration board clause lost effect and the Hutt River Principality became a benevolent absolute monarchy, with a legislation committee to draft new legislation.
In 1997, the legislation committee presented a proposal for a constitution to Casley and his cabinet. Although he and the cabinet are yet to officially adopt and promulgate the proposal, there is a decree stating that any constitution will be in effect while under consideration, except for any clauses that conflict with the bill of rights, so the proposal has essentially become a provisional constitution.
|His Royal Highness, The Prince of Hutt|
|HRH Prince Graeme I|
|Style||His Royal Highness Majesty|
|First monarch||Prince Leonard I of Hutt|
|Formation||21 April 1970|
"His Royal Highness Prince Leonard I of Hutt" is the style which has been used by Leonard George Casley since his creation of the Hutt River Principality. Prince Leonard was married to Shirley Casley (née Butler) until her death on 7 July 2013. Hutt River went into a period of mourning, closing some of its services. She was styled as "Her Royal Highness Princess Shirley of Hutt, Dame of the Rose of Sharon". They have seven adult children, among them Ian Casley ("Prince Ian", born 1947) who is styled as the prime minister of the Principality and was designated as his father's "heir presumptive". Prince Leonard states that the use of titles is purely practical as they are required for legal purposes.
Prince Ian is involved heavily in wildflower production, with the product not only being exported to Perth but to many cities internationally. Princess Shirley played host to dignitaries and diplomatic representatives visiting the principality each year as well as receiving television crews and magazine journalists. She was the patron and chair of the board of directors of the Red Cross of Hutt, a parallel organisation to the International Red Cross.
Prince Leonard pursued a number of occupations before purchasing a large wheat farm near the towns of Northampton and Geraldton in the 1960s. He worked for a shipping company based in Perth and, although he left school at 14, describes himself as a mathematician and physicist and claims to have written articles for NASA. He is an adherent of hermeticism, a subject on which he has privately published a number of research papers and books. He is the subject of a permanent exhibit at the National Museum of Australia in Canberra.
Prince Graeme succeeded his father in an enthronement ceremony that took place on February 11, 2017. He announced preparations to celebrate Hutt River's 47th anniversary in an official address on March 31, 2017.
A set of low denomination banknotes was introduced in 1974. These are denominated from 10 Cents to 2 Dollars. The first Hutt River coins were not issued until 1976. The currency of the Hutt River Province/Principality is the Hutt River Dollar, which is divided into 100 cents. The Hutt River Dollar is pegged at a one-to-one ratio with the Australian Dollar. All authorized Hutt River Principality coins are minted by Canada’s Lombardo Mint and the New Queensland Mint.
First series: 1976–78
There were four denominations: 5c, 10c, 20c and 50c. These were issued from 1976 to 1978, but the 1978 issue was a proof only issue. There was also a silver $30 coin and a gold $100 coin, struck only in proof.
|Value||Technical parameters||Description||Date of first minting|
|5c||16.5 mm||Aluminium||Plain||Leonard Casley||Coat of arms||1976|
|$30||38.1 mm||999‰ silver||Reeded|
|$100||25 mm||24 carat gold||Plain|
|For table standards, see the coin specification table.|
Silver Jubilee $1 coin
In 1977, $1 coins were struck to commemorate the Silver Jubilee of Elizabeth II. These coins are known as "holey dollars", a nickname which is applied to the extremely rare New South Wales 5/– coin and the Prince Edward Island 5/– coin, which were cut and counterstamped from Spanish-American Pieces of Eight (8 Reales). Coins of the same design were struck again in 1978, without the inscription "Queen's Jubilee".
Most of the coins of later series have specific commemorative topics and are usually made of precious metal. The issuance of coins went on until 1995, and resumed in 2000 with the issue of 25 $100 gold coins to commemorate the 30th anniversary of secession. The minting of coins recommenced in 2007 with 1,000 $30 coins in .999 fine gold-plated brass to celebrate the 60th wedding anniversary of Leonard and Shirley Casley, a $5 nickel-plated zinc alloy "Lest We Forget" coin and a set depicting the Armorial Bearings of Casley and his four sons, a $10 coin for Casley and $5 coins for his sons all minted in nickel-plated, zinc alloy. The "Lest We Forget" coin was reissued in 2009. In 2010, the Principality issued a $30 gold- and silver-plated brass coin to mark the 40th anniversary of independence. Following the death of his wife in 2013, Casley authorised a special commemorative coin to celebrate her life.
In the 1970s, Kevin Gale was hired to manage the marketing of HRP's coins and stamps. In 1995 Gale died and it was found that in addition to promoting Hutt River coins and stamps, he had registered "Hutt River Province" as the name of a Queensland company of which he was sole owner and from which no profits were forwarded to the HRP. From 1984 to 1989, Johnson Matthey Refining, Rochester, New York, a manufacturer of precious metal products, manufactured limited numbers of commemorative coins for Mel Wacks, who had been appointed exclusive American distributor by Leonard Casley. In 1989, production was transferred to the New Queensland Mint Division of Continental Coin Company (in California). From 1989 to 1995, the mint produced various themed commemorative Hutt River Province coins which were sold on the US market. Although the total number of coins minted is unknown, it is known that 10,000 $20 coins were minted in 1991 to mark the 50th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor. Up to 200 different commemorative coins in three denominations each ($5, $10 and $20) are believed to have been minted to commemorate Desert Storm, World War II, The Fathers of Baseball, etc. Leonard Casley authorised all of these coins and received samples as well as royalties. All of these Hutt River Province coins are contained in the standard catalogue of Unusual World Coins by Colin Bruce II, edited by Tom Michael and George Cuhaj. A $100 denomination proof commemorative coin issue that contained 1 troy ounce of pure palladium sold for $299 in 1989, the 2012 value of the palladium content was $630.
In 2007 there was an application before the High Court of Australia against proceedings brought for offences relating to the Principality's failure to file tax returns. The argument of the applicants was that they reside in the "Hutt River Province" and that that is not part of Australia and not subject to Australian taxation laws. The two decision-making judges found that, "the arguments advanced by the applicants [were] fatuous, frivolous and vexatious." Therefore, the application was dismissed. This would seem to decide conclusively that, so far as Australia's highest court of law is concerned, the Hutt River Province (or Hutt River Principality) does not have independent status as a country. There is no right of appeal from this decision, as the High Court sits at the apex of Australia's court hierarchy.
Moreover, the Australian Government on its official website, and on many occasions where it has proven necessary, has unequivocally stated that it does not recognise the secession of Hutt River Province. Passports issued by the "Hutt River Province" are not recognised by the Australian Government. Casley has made unverified claims that they have been accepted on a case-by-case basis for overseas travel. Despite these unverified claims, there is a documented instance of a man being arrested in Germany for attempting to use a Hutt River Province 'diplomatic passport'.
However, despite all of this, the Principality of Hutt River continues to argue that it is an independent entity within the Australian legal system and that the Commonwealth has no right to dispute the claimed de facto legality that it claims it was given by an error in a single piece of correspondence from the Governor-General's office, and its own failure to respond to the claim.
The Principality of Hutt River has repeatedly tried to use a document that is purportedly a letter from the Commonwealth Department of Territories admitting, amongst other things, that the Principality is a "legal entity", to further its arguments. Indeed, the document remains on the Principality's website. The Australian Government has noted that Leonard Casley "has used the document in various countries in the past and even sent a copy of it to Senator Evans in 1993". The Australian Government has also told foreign governments the following about this document: "We have seen the purported 'Department of Territories Minute' before. The clumsy language, including a Malapropian use of 'a mute point' gives it away for what it is, a poorly attempted forgery."
The Principality also claims that all social security benefits were withdrawn from Hutt River’s residents at the time of secession by the Australian Government. It is further claimed that residents do not receive pensions, medical benefits, educational allowances, child endowments or benefits normally paid to war veterans. Despite voting being compulsory by law in Australia, Leonard Casley also has claimed to have successfully removed the names of Hutt River residents from the Australian electoral roll.
The National Museum of Australia contains an exhibition on the theme of 'Separation' within Australia which includes a Hutt River Province display which states that Casley had "successfully seceded from Australia". According to Judy Lattas, a sociologist at Macquarie University; "many officials in Western Australia, some quite high up, and even nationally in Australia are happy to play out the myth of Hutt River’s sovereignty [by] attending [Hutt River] functions, returning correspondence [and] abandoning the claim for tax."
On one occasion, a 48-year-old French man who claimed to be an ambassador representing Hutt River Province to the United Arab Emirates, his 36-year-old female compatriot and a 28-year-old Pakistani man, were charged over issuing travel documents and selling land in the Hutt River Province to UAE residents under false pretences. Casley stated that the man had no diplomatic standing in the principality and had only made a single visit to the province.
The principality registers universities in its territory, which it says is illegal within Australia. However, the government authorities have not acted against PHR and several online universities operate and are registered in the principality. While some of these online universities have been exposed as "accreditation mills", St. Linus University, a government accredited online university based in the Philippines, is also registered in the PHR. Similarly, it is claimed that the PHR does not pay taxes to the ATO. Casley has a document purportedly issued by the ATO which states that Leonard Casley is "a non-resident of Australia for income tax purposes". This is a claim also made (in the same words) in another purported Government document often deployed by Casley, which document the Australian Government considers to be a "forgery" (see above discussion of this document).
The Principality of Hutt River is one of only a small number of micronations to be recognized by Google Maps, but only as a 'tourist attraction'.
The Principality often falsely claims that the Australian Government does not interfere with the Principality of Hutt River, and in particular that the Australian Taxation Office allows the Casleys not to pay tax. However, not only has the Australian Taxation Office issued a warning on its website for overseas investors not to purchase companies from the PHR, it has also repeatedly prosecuted Leonard Casley for non-compliance with taxation laws - in the 1970s, in circa 2006, and in ongoing proceedings.
In 2010, Brendon Grylls, the Western Australian Minister for Regional Development and Lands, was asked if his state had a position on the province. He replied "Only that Prince Leonard is an enigma ... There is nothing currently on my agenda as Minister ...that relates to that."
Treatment by European government departments
In 2008, the Council of the European Union issued a memorandum identifying Hutt River passports among known "fantasy passports ... issued by private organisations and individuals" to which a visa should not be affixed. The memorandum makes no separate recommendation for handling of a diplomatic passport issued by the Principality of Hutt River.
Treatment by Asian countries
Hong Kong, while not recognising Hutt River as a country, recognises it as a place in which a company can be incorporated, though no companies were incorporated in Hutt River on the Hong Kong registry. The Hong Kong Registry, however, were looking at reviewing their list of accredited places for company incorporation after the issue was raised in an adverse manner by Australian media.
Treatment by Buckingham Palace
In April 2016, the Principality of Hutt River finally received an official nod from Australia’s head of state, Queen Elizabeth II. Prince Leonard, the sovereign of Hutt River, received a letter with the Queen’s good wishes on the anniversary of the Principality seceding from Australia 46 years ago, on April 21, 1970. The letter from Buckingham Palace is signed by Mrs Sonia Bonici, Senior Correspondence Officer. It reads in part: “I am to convey Her Majesty’s good wishes to you and to all concerned for a most enjoyable and successful celebration on 23rd and 24th of April to mark the forty-sixth anniversary of the Principality of Hutt River.” The Queen was replying to a letter from Prince Leonard congratulating her on her 90th birthday.
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- It is a Royal Prerogative to recognise a new foreign Government. Under the Principle of Law, when it is under consideration to give such recognition it is specified that the validity of the claim is not relevant; it is the right of the Government to speak for the people it represents that is to be considered. Laws on Royal Prerogative state that no court may inquire into the whys and wherefores of any Royal Prerogative exercised. Precedent cases have ruled that if any recognition is given by a person authorised to do the business of the day who should otherwise have obtained some other authority for the recognition, having failed to do so does not invalidate the recognition so given. The Limitations Act also states that once any recognition is given to a person entitled, then the Statute runs from that fact.
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took the title 'Prince', his wife became Princess Shirley, and together they turned their principality into a tourist destination.
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In a further application of bush law he changed the province to a principality and declared himself Prince Leonard and his wife Princess Shirley. He had successfully seceded from Australia.
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- Palladium prices Live Palladium prices in AUD per ounce.
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