Principality of Hutt River

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Principality of Hutt River
Flag of PHR Seal of PHR
Flag Seal
Motto: Dum Spiro Spero
"While I Breathe, I Hope"
Anthem: "It's a Hard Land" by Keith Kerwin
Status Current
Location 28°4′28″S 114°28′14.5″E / 28.07444°S 114.470694°E / -28.07444; 114.470694
Capital Nain
Official languages English
(official language)
French, Esperanto
(per constitution)
Ethnic groups Caucasian, Australian Aborigines (Nunda Tribe)
Demonym Hutt Riverian
Organizational structure Principality
 •  Prince Leonard I of Hutt (born 28 August 1925)
 •  Declared 21 April 1970 
Area claimed
 •  Total 75 km2
29 sq mi
Purported currency Hutt River Dollar, tied 1:1 with Australian Dollar
Time zone UTC+08:00

The Principality of Hutt River, previously known as the Hutt River Province, is the oldest micronation in Australia. The principality claims to be an independent sovereign state and to have achieved legal status on 21 April 1970, although it remains unrecognised by Australia and other nations. The principality is located 517 km (354 mi) north of Perth, near the town of Northampton in the state of Western Australia. If considered independent, it is an enclave of Australia. It is a regional tourist attraction.[1]

The principality was founded on 21 April 1970 by Leonard George Casley, who styles himself as "Prince Leonard", when he and his associates proclaimed their secession from Western Australia. His wife Shirley, styled as "Princess Shirley", died on 7 July 2013.[2][3]


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 replied "no rectification of our Quota would be allowed". Casley reasoned that as 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 resorted to the law of unjust enrichment and successfully seized government land surrounding his farm which he hoped would increase his quota. Two weeks later, the government introduced a bill into Parliament to "resume" their lands under compulsory acquisition. 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.[1][4][5]

The Government of Western Australia determined it could do nothing without the intervention of the Commonwealth. The Governor-General of Australia, Sir Paul Hasluck, later stated that it was unconstitutional for the Commonwealth to intervene in the secession.[4] In correspondence with the Governor-General's office, Casley was inadvertently addressed as the "Administrator of the Hutt River Province" which was claimed (via Royal Prerogative as the Queen's representative) to be a legally binding recognition.[4][6] After Prime Minister William McMahon threatened him with prosecution for "infringement of territory," Casley styled himself "His Majesty Prince Leonard I of Hutt" to take advantage of the British Treason Act 1495 in which a self-proclaimed monarch could not be guilty of any offence against the rightful ruler and that anyone who interfered with that monarch's duties could be charged with treason.[1] The government's recognition of Casley as "Administrator of Hutt River" had inadvertently made the Treason Act applicable and Casley continued to sell his wheat in open defiance of the quota.[7] Although the law in this matter has since changed, the Australian Constitution prevented its retrospectivity and the Australian government has not taken any action against Hutt River since the declaration.[8] Under Australian law, the federal government had two years to respond to Casley's declaration; Casley says that the failure to respond gave the province de facto autonomy on 21 April 1972. The Western Australian state government can still dispute the secession.[9]

Map of the Principality of Hutt River

In 1976, Australia Post refused to handle Hutt River mail, forcing mail to be redirected via Canada. Following repeated demands by the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) for the payment of taxes, on 2 December 1977 the province officially declared war on Australia. Leonard Casley notified authorities of the cessation of hostilities several days later.[9] The declaration was simply legal maneuvering, Casley wrote to the Governor-General: "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 Convention.[7] In 1980, the mail service was restored after a Perth court ruled that Hutt River currency and postage stamps were valid and legal within the principality. In 2013, Casley stated 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."[7] Hutt River 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.[7][10][11] The province displays ATO documents supporting that no tax is paid but the ATO cannot verify the province's tax status as it cannot by law comment on the affairs of individuals. However, Casley admits to making annual "gifts" to the Shire of Northampton.[12] 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.[13]

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, Leonard Casley decided to change the name to "Principality of Hutt River" and dropped the word "Province".[14]


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.[7][15][16]

While the principality has only 23 actual residents, it claims a worldwide citizenry of 14,000.[17] 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.[13] 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.[18] 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".[19] A variety of licenses are also available. Hutt River also allows car registrations, including issuing license plates to overseas vehicles. The principality's capital, Nain, is named after Nain in Galilee.

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.[1] 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.[13]

Casley family

His Royal Highness The Prince of Hutt
HRH Prince Leonard I of Hutt
Style His Majesty
Heir apparent HRH Crown Prince Ian
First monarch Prince Leonard I of Hutt
Formation 21 April 1970
File:Hutt 50 cent.JPG
Obverse of a 50 cent coin depicting Casley

"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. Casley was married to Shirley Casley (née Butler) until her death on 7 July 2013.[20] Hutt River went into a period of mourning, closing some of its services.[2][3] 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 ("Crown Prince Ian", born 1947) who is styled as the prime minister of the principality and has been designated as his father's eventual successor as "heir presumptive". Leonard Casley states that the use of titles is purely practical as they are required for legal purposes.

Ian Casley is involved heavily in wildflower production, with the product not only being exported to Perth but to many cities internationally. Shirley Casley played host to dignitaries and diplomatic representatives visiting the principality each year[12] 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.[21]

Leonard Casley 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.[15] He is an adherent of hermeticism, a subject on which he has privately published a number of research papers and books.[16] He is the subject of a permanent exhibit at the National Museum of Australia in Canberra.[22]


A set of low denomination banknotes was introduced in 1974. 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 tied at a one-to-one ratio with the Australian dollar.[23] All authorized Hutt River Principality coins are minted by Canada’s Lombardo 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.[23]

First Series
Value Technical parameters Description Date of first minting
Diameter Composition Edge Obverse Reverse
5c 16.5 mm Aluminium Plain Leonard Casley Coat of arms 1976
10c 19.1 mm Copper
20c 22.4 mm Brass
50c 24.9 mm Cupronickel
$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

File:Hutt river province currency 01.jpg
1986 100 dollar Hutt River Province coin commemorating the centennial of the Statue of Liberty (front and back) manufactured by Johnson Matthey Refining, Rochester, New York

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 "Queens's Jubilee".[23]

Later series

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.[23]

Hutt River Province Commemorative Coins

1991 20 dollar coin was part of a series commemorating Operation Desert Storm

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.[24][25]


The Principality of Hutt River argues 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 was given in error by the Governor-General's office,[4] and its own failure to respond to the claim.[9] To overturn this de facto recognition, Casley says that the West Australian Governor's office would have to submit the secession to arbitration, something which the Hutt River Province claims is not done due to legal uncertainty over the result, related to the fact that he claims Western Australia in its entirety was never officially proclaimed as British Territory. Passports issued by the "Hutt River Province" are not recognised by the Australian Government.[26] Casley claims they have been accepted on a case-by-case basis for overseas travel.[15]

All social security benefits were withdrawn from Hutt River’s residents at the time of secession by the Australian Government. 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 has successfully removed the names of Hutt River residents from the Australian electoral roll.[7]

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".[27] 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."[12]

In 2005, the Heritage Council of Western Australia listed the Hutt River Province as having "high historic and social significance as the site of Australia's only independent principality."[28]

The Australian Government on its official website has stated that it does not recognise the secession of Hutt River Province.[29]

The Australian Ambassador to the United Arab Emirates, Jeremy Bruer, upon hearing that an office purporting to represent the "Hutt River Province" was operating in Dubai, allegedly selling travel documents, stated that the Australian Government did not recognise the "Hutt River Province", legally or in any other way.[26] An Iranian with French nationality, identified only as "K", who claimed to be an ambassador representing Hutt River Province, his French companion and a Pakistani man, were subsequently charged over the issuing of travel documents and with selling land in the Hutt River Province to UAE residents under false pretences.[30] Casley stated that the man had no diplomatic standing in the principality and had only made a single visit to the province.[31]

The principality registers universities in its territory, which is illegal within Australia. However, the government authorities have not acted against PHR[32] and several online universities operate and are registered in the principality. While some of these online universities have been exposed as "accreditation mills",[33] St. Linus University, a government accredited online university based in the Philippines, is also registered in the PHR.[34] Similarly, the PHR does not pay taxes to the ATO.[35] The ATO has also stated that Leonard Casley is "a non-resident of Australia for income tax purposes".[36]

The Principality of Hutt River is one of only a small number of micronations to be recognized by Google Maps.[37]

On the whole, Australian Government departments do not interfere with the Principality of Hutt River. While the Australian Taxation Office has issued a warning on its website for overseas investors not to purchase companies from the PHR, it has not otherwise acted against the principality. 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."[16]

In 2007 there was an application before the High Court of Australia against proceedings brought for offences relating to the failure to file tax returns.[38] 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.[39] The two decision making judges found that, "the arguments advanced by the applicants [were] fatuous, frivolous and vexatious." Therefore the application was dismissed. This may call into question the independent status of the country at least as far as the Australian courts are concerned. There appears to have be no appeal from the decision.

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.[40]

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.[41][42]

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 "A man's Hutt is his castle", The Age, 24 April 2010.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Yolanda Zaw (2013-07-10). "Tributes for Hutt River matriarch". The West Australian. Retrieved 2014-04-30. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 "Hutt River principality princess dies peacefully". ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation). 2013-07-09. Retrieved 2014-04-30. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 "Secession Success". The Advertiser. 8 June 2008. 
  5. Hutt River Province ninemsn Getaway 14 October 2004
  6. 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.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 7.5 Heaton, Andrew (14 May 2013). "Prince of the Outback". Reason magazine. Retrieved 10 February 2014. 
  8. Flying the flag for the Waterfront Northern Territory News 18 March 2012
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 Ryan, John (2006). Micronations. Lonely Planet. ISBN 1-74104-730-7. 
  10. Micronation Master: Prince Leonard of Hutt River Bloomberg Businessweek 17 May 2012
  11. The Royal Showman ABC News 5 May 2010
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 Rewards for Rebellion: Tiny Nation and Crown for Life The New York Times 1 February 2011
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 "Offshore Financial And Legal Consultant". The Offshore Yellow Pages. A directory of Tax Havens. Retrieved 9 June 2008. 
  14. Micronation renaming Archived 7 May 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 Brendan Hutchens (16 April 2003). "Prince Leonard". George Negus Tonight: people. Australian Broadcasting Commission. Retrieved 28 July 2007. took the title 'Prince', his wife became Princess Shirley, and together they turned their principality into a tourist destination. 
  16. 16.0 16.1 16.2 "The Mouse that Roared", ABC News, 18 April 2010
  17. "The unknown country within Australia", Off the Path, 17 June 2011.
  18. Development of Asset Protection Structures "Mondaq Business Briefing" Mondaq Ltd. 29 March 2005 HighBeam Research accessed 14 June 2012
  19. Aggressive Tax Planning: 'Hutt River Province' and international business companies Australian Taxation Office
  20. "Hutt River's 'princess' Shirley Casley dies aged 85". 10 July 2013. Retrieved 10 July 2013. 
  21. HRH Princess Shirley Principality of Hutt
  22. "Exhibitions: Eternity – Separation". NMA Homepage. National Museum of Australia. Retrieved 13 May 2007. 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. 
  23. 23.0 23.1 23.2 23.3 Rogers, Kerry. "The Coins of HRH Prince Leonard I" (PDF). Australian Coin and Banknote Magazine. Retrieved 10 February 2014. 
  24. Ed Rochette One-man nation strikes again Chicago Sun-Times 19 November 1989 HighBeam Research accessed 14 June 2012
  25. Palladium prices Live Palladium prices in AUD per ounce.
  26. 26.0 26.1 "Australian Government Does Not Recognise The Hutt River Province". Australian Embassy, United Arab Emirates. Retrieved 22 May 2009. 
  27. Eternity: Separation National Museum of Australia
  28. Shire of Northampton. "Hutt River Province". Municipal Heritage Inventory. Heritage Council of Western Australia. Retrieved 15 February 2014. 
  29. "What is the Hutt River Province?". 1999-02-22. Retrieved 2014-04-30. 
  30. Za'za', Bassam (26 March 2008). "Hutt River 'ambassador' accused of conning people". Gulf News. Retrieved 23 January 2014. 
  31. AAP/AFP (27 March 2008). "Defendant claims to be Hutt ambassador". The Age. Retrieved 23 January 2014. 
  32. "Would you want a degree from this man?" by Andrea Mayes, 25 May 2008, Sunday Times, p. 19.
  33. New Trends in Credential Abuse (fake universities) Accredibase 2011 Report, p. 32
  34. St. Linus University University website.
  35. "Now Leonard wants a uni.", by Karen Valenti, 17 February 2003, Gold Coast Bulletin, p. 15
  36. Matt Siegel (2012-05-17). "Micronation Master: Prince Leonard of Hutt River". Bloomberg Businessweek. Retrieved 2014-04-30. 
  38. Casley v Commissioner of Taxation [2007] HCATrans 590 (4 October 2007)
  39. "Casley v Commissioner of Taxation". Austlii. Austlii. Retrieved 29 December 2015. 
  40. Information concerning known fantasy and camouflage passports Archived 21 September 2013 at the Wayback Machine
  41. Mercer, Daniel "Hong Kong gives nod to Hutt River", The West Australian, 28 January 2012, p. 23.
  42. Wood, Leonie (26 January 2012). "Some like it hutt but others beg to differ". The Age. 


  • "Mini-states Down Under are sure they can secede" by Nick Squires, The Daily Telegraph, 24 February 2005
  • "If at first you don't secede…" by Mark Dapin, The Sydney Morning Herald, 12 February 2005, pp. 47–50
  • "Unusual World Coins", by Colin R. Bruce, Krause Publications, 2005, ISBN 0-87349-793-7, p. 240

External links