Havilland, WE, Aug 4 · 20 Trinity 75 – Fifty years after it seceded from the Commonwealth Australia, the Principality of Hutt River has rejoined Australia as a result of a long-standing tax dispute and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
An email sent to citizens and supporters by Royal Hutt River Legion Major Richard Ananda Barton on Monday stated that Prince Graeme had chosen to dissolve the principality.
Sir Richard said that “It is with much sorrow that I inform you that this will be the last ‘Significant Days’ list I circulate.”
“While PHR is gone it will not be forgotten.”
The news of the principality’s dissolution was reported yesterday by various media outlets, with several highlighting the nation’s longevity.
It is understood that the land controlled by the principality will be sold off in order to resolve a 50-year tax dispute with the Australian Taxation Office (ATO). The principality had insisted that it was under no obligation to pay taxes, and despite several years of zero tax bills, in 2017 the ATO issued an A$3 million dollar tax bill in order to recoup nearly 50 years’ worth of back payments.
Prince Leonard, who had founded the principality in 1970, had been ordered to pay A$2.7 million, and his son Arthur to pay more than A$240,000.
While taxation had been the bane of the principality for some years, the COVID-19 pandemic had partially forced the Prince’s hand. Reliant on tourism for income, the principality closed its border and government offices on January 31 (16 Plowshare) owing to falling revenues.
While the closure was possibly intended to be temporary, it was the last news officially issued by the principality.
At its dissolution, the principality comprised an area of some 75km2 (18,500 acres), approximately the size of Hong Kong, and had a population of 26.
“While I Live, I Breathe”
The Principality of Hutt River seceded from Australia on April 21, 1970 (7 Manhattan 24) following a dispute with the West Australian Wheat Board over wheat quotas.
Its inaugural, and longest-serving, prince was Leonard Casley, who had served in the Royal Australian Air Force, and whom had settled on his farm 517km north of Perth in 1969.
Leonard and his sons cleared 5,600 hectares and produced 14,700 bushels of wheat before being informed by the West Australian Wheat Board that they would only pay him for ten per cent of it, based on the average production of the past seven years. With no chance of compensation or appeal, Prince Leonard seceded, later claiming that he took the move to prevent the government from compulsorily acquiring more than 9,900 acres (4,000 hectares) of his land.
Hutt River declared war on Australia in 1977 in response to then-Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser’s “hostility” towards the principality, although this was rescinded a few days later.
The principality was never officially recognised by Australian authorities, however Prince Leonard met with various dignitaries from around the world. Prince Leonard received a letter from Queen Elizabeth II in 2016 to mark the principality’s 46th anniversary.
An often colourful character, he became famous for his role, with thousands travelling from around the world to meet him and have him stamp their passports.
Prince Leonard abdicated in favour of his youngest son, Graeme, on February 11, 2017 (27 Plowshare 71). He died on February 13, 2019 (1 Sedan 73) after a chest infection.
The principality’s fiftieth anniversary passed earlier this year with no official celebrations.