Principality of Hutt River closed indefinitely

Submitted: Saturday, Jan 11, 2020 at 23:39
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For those of us that made the pilgrimage to Hutt River and chuckled at the eccentricity and scheming of Prince Leonard and enjoyed it....the old rascal sold you Hutt River "currency" at the Tourist reception, but wouldn't accept it at his souvenir shop lol.

Closure story here.
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Reply By: Member - Graham N (SA) - Sunday, Jan 12, 2020 at 15:14

Sunday, Jan 12, 2020 at 15:14
Sad to hear of the closure, visited there in '05 and really enjoyed the wit and humour of Prince Leonard. He sold us many souvenirs, coins, stamps, stubbie holders but one of the best was a pen that was unique, it could write Hungarian, after he gave me a demonstration I couldn't help but buy it.
Prince Leonard actually spent some of his school years here in Quorn S.A. living in North Quorn.
A cousin of mine visited Hutt River Province last November and found Prince Graeme quite entertaining.

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Reply By: Ron N - Monday, Jan 13, 2020 at 00:33

Monday, Jan 13, 2020 at 00:33
Yes, it's pretty sad that both Federal and State Govts, and the ATO in particular, are intent on shutting down the Principality of Hutt River.

We need more eccentrics and characters, the world is a dreary place without them.

I'm afraid Prince Graeme is going to be right royally shafted by the ATO over Lens unpaid $3M tax bill.

As they say, there's nothing surer than death and taxes, and the ATO even taxes you after you're dead.

I don't think Graeme has the same eccentricity and drive of Len, and I think perhaps we've seen the last of the Principality of Hutt River.

Cheers, Ron.
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Follow Up By: Member - rocco2010 - Monday, Jan 13, 2020 at 01:17

Monday, Jan 13, 2020 at 01:17
Sorry Ron, can’t agree.

Casley have seemed like a harmless eccentric but in reality he was a very savvy farmer and businessman who had a long history of ignoring laws that didn’t suit him.

As someone who paid his tax every week for 40 odd years I don’t have much time for people who don’t pay their share.

Cheers
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Follow Up By: Ron N - Monday, Jan 13, 2020 at 02:03

Monday, Jan 13, 2020 at 02:03
Rocco - Yeah, point taken. On the other side of the coin, the Casleys receive no Govt benefits of any kind - no welfare, no pensions, no veterans entitlements, no Medicare - so I guess the non-payment of those moneys needs to be taken into account.

The Casleys have effectively posed no burden to the taxpayer in that regard.

However, I note the crafty old coot paid his land rates regularly, thus ensuring his farm wasn't sold for non-payment of rates. He claimed the rates payment was a regular "gift".

I wonder if Len actually stashed away a large hoard somewhere? - on the basis he would have the money on hand to pay the outstanding tax, if it came to the crunch - as it appears it has.

I really am surprised that the ATO has let him get away with non-payment of tax since 1977. I don't reckon I'd be able to do that.
I bet the penalties on his unpaid tax, make up more than half the tax claimed.
I reckon he probably socked away a lot of cash payments from tourists - so on that basis, the Casleys should cough up.

But they wouldn't be alone on that angle, I regularly see lots of people getting substantial amounts of cash without the tax man knowing about it.

Cheers, Ron.
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Follow Up By: Member - ACD 1 - Monday, Jan 13, 2020 at 11:02

Monday, Jan 13, 2020 at 11:02
“It is with a heavy heart” my arse!

More like its with an empty wallet!

Nothing more than a quirky tax dodge!

They have decided to “close their doors” “due to financial hardship” and what, expect the Australian Tax payer to pickup the slack in their declining years.

If they were truly an independent “micro-nation” the govt should hit them with duties for selling their farm produce in AUSTRALIA!

They should be hit with duties for all the produce they shifted on AUSTRALIAN roads - they didn’t contribute to the building or upkeep of them.

Bet they didn’t pay customs duties every time they left their property.

The list of financial responsibility they have towards AUSTRALIA goes on and on.

It was fun ride while it lasted, but now it’s time to pay the Carnival Owner!

Cheers

Anthony
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Reply By: Gerard S - Monday, Jan 13, 2020 at 14:10

Monday, Jan 13, 2020 at 14:10
Apparently his "gift" to the Shire equating to his rates was to ensure the road was maintained for tourists and to truck his grain out etc
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Follow Up By: Member - ACD 1 - Monday, Jan 13, 2020 at 17:55

Monday, Jan 13, 2020 at 17:55
His gift to the shire was to stop them seizing and selling his property for non payment of rates.

His grain would most likely go to Northampton Bins in which case he would use the NW Coastal Highway - a National Road paid for by the Fed Govt.

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Follow Up By: Ron N - Tuesday, Jan 14, 2020 at 00:38

Tuesday, Jan 14, 2020 at 00:38
But he would have had no choice but to pay full price for his fuel used on the road, and not be able to submit his claim for 16 cents a litre fuel tax credit, as farmers and truckies do.

Then he wouldn't have been able to claim the 41.8 cents a litre fuel tax credit for fuel used for farming purposes, either.

And he would've had to pay full licence fees for all his vehicles, and not receive farm licence concessions.

In fact, he would've received no concessions of any kind - not even a pensioners concession. Concessions can really add up over the years.

He would've been paying GST on every single input into his business, from year 2000 - with no ability to get any of the GST repaid to him.

So there's more to it, than just the initial appearance of simple outright tax dodging.

If I was Graeme, I reckon I'd be visiting a good tax lawyer, not trying to present his own tax or secession arguments.
I'm sure Gina would be able to put him onto one, she was married to one.

The bottom line is, there's plenty of wealthy people and corporations out there, who believe paying tax is only for mugs, and who structure their businesses and income accordingly, through multiple tax havens and trust structures, so they only pay laughable amounts of tax.

Cheers, Ron.
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Follow Up By: Member - ACD 1 - Tuesday, Jan 14, 2020 at 11:05

Tuesday, Jan 14, 2020 at 11:05
Ron

Your assertions above are somewhat of a moot point.

Firstly - The operators of the Hutt River Province openly operated their businesses in the free Australian market. The same as hundreds of thousands of other “foreign owned” businesses currently operating in the same free and open market. As such, they are eligible under Australian Tax Law to be entitled to apply for and receive tax concessions that are set down within that law. Including Fuel rebates, GST rebates, vehicle licensing rebates, income tax rebates etc etc.

I can’t think of one “foreign owned” business currently operating in Australia that would not exploit a tax concession that was available to them. I am happy for you to correct me though.

Secondly - why would any of the “citizens” of Hutt River Province be entitled to welfare concessions that are in place for Australian citizens - they ceased to be an Australian citizen upon secession from the Australia therefore rendering them ‘unentitled’ to receive them. Surely as an “Independent Sovereign Nation” the Hutt River Province would have some form of welfare system for its nationals?

Finally - I will leave you with a quote from someone obviously more knowledgeable than myself that support my earlier statements that this is “Nothing more than a quirky tax dodge!”

“The bottom line is, there's plenty of wealthy people and corporations out there, who believe paying tax is only for mugs, and who structure their businesses and income accordingly, through multiple tax havens and trust structures, so they only pay laughable amounts of tax.” (Ron N -13 January 2020)

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Follow Up By: Ron N - Tuesday, Jan 14, 2020 at 11:19

Tuesday, Jan 14, 2020 at 11:19
Anthony, as far as I'm aware, Hutt River Principality has never been formally recognised as a "foreign owned" entity, nor a separate nation or country.

That was what bugged old Len, no official recognition from any Govt authority, Federal, State or Local, and certainly no recognition as a foreign entity by the ATO.

Len just refused to submit tax returns and every attempt by him to get a legal ruling, that he was a separate country, and was not obliged to pay tax to Australia, was ruled to be inadmissable and unacceptable.

So the ATO has just been totting up his combined tax obligations since 1977, and presented him with a $2.7M tax bill not long before he died.

As I said, I'm amazed that he got away with not sending in tax returns for so long, although there have been others, I recently saw a case where a bloke hadn't submitted a tax return for 30 years.

Cheers, Ron.
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Follow Up By: Member - ACD 1 - Tuesday, Jan 14, 2020 at 11:25

Tuesday, Jan 14, 2020 at 11:25
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Follow Up By: Ron N - Tuesday, Jan 14, 2020 at 11:31

Tuesday, Jan 14, 2020 at 11:31
Anthony - That is only an "opinion" letter by senior public servants. It means nothing.

Len Casley never got any binding legal ruling from any Australian Court, at any level, that he was a foreign country, or a foreign citizen.

Cheers, Ron.
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Follow Up By: Ron N - Tuesday, Jan 14, 2020 at 11:39

Tuesday, Jan 14, 2020 at 11:39
See page 544 in the document linked to below. The official Australian Govt view, in terms of "Diplomatic and Consular Relations", was that Hutt River Province was "purely a commercial entity".

No recognition whatsoever by the Australian Govt, that Hutt River Province was a foreign country, or territory, or Govt.

Diplomatic and Consular Relations

Also, see Page 473 in the document link below, with regards to passports.

"In 1976, my Department advised all overseas posts that any inquiries from governments regarding the activities of Mr Casley should be advised that the Australian Government does not recognize the Hutt River Province and any assertions to the contrary are false."

AustLII journals - Aust Journal of International Law - Passports

Cheers, Ron.
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Follow Up By: Member - ACD 1 - Tuesday, Jan 14, 2020 at 13:30

Tuesday, Jan 14, 2020 at 13:30
Ron

The first document you cite is not an “official” lack of recognition of the Independence of the Hutt River Province. It is simply the second reading speech put forward by the Minister for This, That and the Other - Mr Johns.

“On 21June 1995, in the House of Representatives, the Special Minister of State, Assistant Minister for Industrial Relations and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Public Service Matters, Mr Johns, gave the second reading speech for the Overseas Missions (Privileges and Immunities) Bill 1995, and its cognate, the Overseas Missions (Privileges and Immunities) (Consequential Amendments) Bill 1995. The text of the speech follows (House of Representatives, Debates, vol202, p 1294):”

Using the same logic you applied to the document I posted, this is merely “opinion”. Notwithstanding, there may be a legal declaration by the Australian Parliament of non recognition, but this is not it.

With regards to the acceptance of passports, the acceptance or denial of a passport does not preclude the legal status of the issuing body. A case in point is the non acceptance of Israeli passports in certain countries. Likewise, the denial of one sovereign nations legal existence by another sovereign nation does not mean it is not a legal entity. Again Israel vs Palestine comes to mind - however history is littered with such disputes.

However, I digress - my argument is not the legal acceptance of the Hutt River Provence by the Australian Government, it is the assertion that it was established purely for the Financial Gain of the “citizens”.

Oh! thanks for the quote to support this claim - “or purely commercial entities such as Hutt River Province.”

Cheers

Anthony
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Follow Up By: Ron N - Tuesday, Jan 14, 2020 at 14:19

Tuesday, Jan 14, 2020 at 14:19
No specific "legal declaration" of the rejection of HRP as a separate nation, has ever been issued by the Govt.

They don't need to, they simply rely on the Australian higher courts decisions - which in every legal case pursued by Prince Leonard, it has been declared that Prince Leonards claims to "sovereignty", "have no merit".

Hutt River Province in stalemate over $3M tax bill

The full Supreme Court dismissal of Prince Leonards appeal claims that he owed no tax to the ATO, due to HRP being a Sovereign State, is in the link below. It's a pretty short case.

Casley VS Deputy Commissioner of Taxation

I had to smile at his claim that he was recognised as a Sovereign State because he had a letter from the ATO addressed as, "Principality of Hutt River". Good try.

What's interesting is that the ATO claim on Prince Leonards (and now, his estate) is only for the years 2006 to 2013.
I wonder what happened for them to abandon tax return claims for the years 1977 to 2006?
I suspect it is because many of the written records for those years have been destroyed, or simply cannot be found.

Cheers, Ron.
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