The Principality of Hutt River, often referred to by its former name, the Hutt Pontinha bitcoin value Province, is a micronation in Australia. The principality claims to be an independent sovereign state founded on 21 April 1970.
The micronation was founded on 21 April 1970 when Leonard Casley declared his farm to be an independent country, the Hutt River Province. In February 2017 at the age of 91 and after ruling for 45 years, Prince Leonard abdicated the throne in favour of his youngest son, Prince Graeme. Leonard Casley declared the Principality an independent province in 1970 in response to a dispute with the government of Western Australia over what the Casley family considered draconian wheat production quotas. 52 million in the hope the claim would force a revision of the quota.
Casley also claims he made a successful Court claim using the law of unjust enrichment to successfully seize government land surrounding his farm which he hoped would increase his wheat quota. Two weeks later, Casley claims the government introduced a bill into Parliament to “resume” his and the other families’ lands under compulsory acquisition laws. At about this time, Casley claims that in correspondence with the Governor-General’s office, Casley was on one occasion inadvertently addressed as the “Administrator of the Hutt River Province”. Casley claims this constitutes legally binding recognition of the Principality. At about this time, Casley styled himself “His Majesty Prince Leonard I of Hutt”. Casley did this because he believed it would enable him to take advantage of the British Treason Act 1495, which provides that the de facto king of a nation cannot 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. Casley says he continued to sell his wheat in open defiance of the quota.
Casley believes that under Australian law the federal government had two years to respond to Casley’s declaration of sovereignty. On 2 December 1977, famously, the Principality declared war on Australia. Casley notified authorities of the cessation of hostilities several days later. It may be more than coincidence that this declaration of war came in just a few months after a court decision where Casley was fined for failing to furnish the ATO with certain documents. In 1978, Casley appealed to the Supreme Court of Western Australia against a conviction for conducting a shop on his property without a permit.
His appeal was dismissed, except to alter the penalty. Casley did not suggest his land was not subject to Australian law in this appeal. 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 debts owed to a publishing company he had contracted to print copies of a book called The Man, which was about himself and his achievements. In the early 1980s, the Principality declared itself to be a kingdom, but soon reverted to its original status of a principality. The Principality released a number of stamps and coins. In about 2006, Casley was again successfully prosecuted by the ATO. He sought special leave to appeal to the High Court of Australia, but his application was dismissed with the comment that his arguments were “fatuous, frivolous and vexatious”.
In September 2006, Prince Leonard decided to change the Province’s name to “Principality of Hutt River”. 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 Lan, to be the successor. The Principality has no legal status as a matter of Australian law. In 2007 the High Court of Australia dismissed an application by Casley for leave to appeal against a judgment against him in favour of the Commissioner of Taxation relating to Casley’s failure to file tax returns. Casley argued he resided in the “Hutt River Province” and that that is not part of Australia and not subject to Australian taxation law.
Moreover, the Australian Government on its official website, and on many occasions where it has proven necessary, has unequivocally stated it does not recognise the secession of the Principality. Passports issued by the Principality are not recognised by the Australian Government. Casley has claimed that in 2012 the ATO sent him a tax demand to which he simply responded with a document stating he was a “foreign national and non-resident of Australia. He has also repeatedly claimed that while he is required to lodge income tax forms, he is classed by the ATO as a “non-resident of Australia for income tax purposes” and does not pay tax. Despite all this, the Principality continues to argue it is an independent entity within the Australian legal system. The Principality also has claimed that all social security benefits were withdrawn from Hutt River’s residents at the time of secession by the Australian Government.