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Hutt River Province Principality
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|Type of entity:||Micronation|
|Location:||Near Geraldton, Western Australia|
|Area claimed:||75 km²|
|Population||Approximately 20 permanent residents and 13,000 passport holders|
|Date of Foundation:||21 April, 1970|
|Leader||Prince Leonard I|
|Purported organisational structure:||Constitutional monarchy|
|Official Language:||English (de facto), French and Esperanto (per constitution)|
|Purported Currency:||Hutt River Province Dollar|
The Hutt River Province Principality is Australia's oldest micronation. It is located on a large farming property several hundred kilometres north of Perth. The Province was founded on 21 April, 1970 by farmer Leonard George Casley, now Prince Leonard I, when he and his associates proclaimed their secession from the state of Western Australia. Despite lacking official recognition, the Province claims that its independence has been acknowledged in several documents originating in the Australian government.
In 1969, in response to a long-running dispute with the government of Western Australia over wheat quotas, Casley and his associates declared independence from the Commonwealth of Australia, claiming the Treason Act of 1495 allowed them to do so. Casley states that he nonetheless remains loyal to the British monarcy. Casley was elected administrator of the new state by his family and later styled himself "His Royal Highness Prince Leonard of Hutt."
In the early 1980s Hutt River Province declared that it had become a kingdom, but soon afterwards reverted to its original status of a principality. During this period a charismatic individual by the name of Kevin Gale became associated with the Principality, and swiftly rose through the ranks of the nobility to the position of Prince Regent. Gale, who lived across the continent in Queensland, progressively took control of the Principality's commercial operations, and proceeded to release a veritable flood of stamp and coin issues. Gale's operation also actively sold Hutt River noble titles and knighthoods throughout Europe and North America.
By the early 1990s, Gale's activities had become independent of those of his sovereign in all but name, and the Prince Regent regularly hosted large public functions and was associated with high-profile charitable fundraising activities on the Gold Coast. At the time of his sudden death in 1995 he and his associates were allegedly seeking to formally overthrow Prince Leonard, install Gale in his place, and establish the Hutt River Province Principality as an independent state on an island in the Pacific Ocean.
When the extent of Gale's activities finally came to the attention of Prince Leonard, the Prince Regent was declared a traitor to the Principality, and stripped of all his titles and honours. The entire 15-year episode remains highly contentious, and Prince Leonard's administration refuses to even acknowledge it. The Principality's activities since 1995 have been considerably more low-key, although its 30th anniversary, on April 21, 2000, was attended by supporters and media from around the world.
The Australian government's current position on the Principality is that it is nothing more than a private enterprise operating under a business name. Tourist maps of the area, produced by the state government, note the main compound as a tourist attraction and mention the Principality's claims to independence.
The story of the Hutt River Province Principality's purported secession is well known in Australia, and Prince Leonard is generally admired as a well-intentioned eccentric who embodies a much-admired anti-establishment streak that is thought by many to form an intrinsic part of the Australian national character. For this reason he has been made the subject of a permanent exhibit at Australia's National Museum in Canberra.
Hutt River Province Principality is situated 595 kilometers (370mi) north of Perth and covers an area of about 75 square kilometers (30mi^2). Exports include wildflowers, agricultural produce, stamps and coins. Tourism is also important to the Principality's economy.
Although actual residents are very few, the principality claims a world-wide citizenry of 13,000 individuals.
Hutt River has no standing army, but a number of its citizens have been awarded military commissions, and honorary guardsmen attend the Prince on formal occasions. Despite being completely landlocked, the Principality has conferred naval commissions to supporters of the its supporters.
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.) has been authorised to act as a registered agent for HRPP incorporations.
Despite HRPP not being official recognised as a sovereign nation, passports issued by the Principality have on various occasions allegedly been used to cross international borders, and visas have been issued on HRPP passports by several countries on a case-by-case basis.
When the Hutt River Province declared its secession, a bill of rights for the country was drafted. Besides establishing the rights of Principality citizens, it also provided for an Administration Board to govern over the Province until a permanent form of government could be established. When Casley declared himself Prince, the Administration Board clause effectively lost effect, and the Hutt River Province Principality became a benevolent Absolute monarchy with a Legislation Committee to draft new legislation. In 1997, the Legislation Committee finished a proposal for a Constitution and presented it to the Prince and his Cabinet. Although the Prince and Cabinet are still yet to officially adopt and promulgate the proposal, it is not without effect, as there is a decree stating that any constitution will be in effect while still under consideration except for clauses that conflict with the Bill of Rights. To this end, the proposal remains in effect as a sort of provisional constitution, and the Prince and Cabinet do not appear to intend to adopt the constitution very soon.
Prince Leonard is the name and title that has been used by Leonard George Casley (born 1930) and his supporters since his creation of the Hutt River Province Principality, the oldest and most widely known Micronation in Australia. Casley purports to be the Sovereign of that entity, which he claims is an Independent state - a position that is not supported by the government of Australia.
Casley pursued a number of occupations before purchasing a large wheat farm near Geraldton, Western Australia in the 1960s. In 1970, after a longrunning dispute over quotas with the Australian Wheat Board, he declared the "secession" of his 75 square kilometre property from the Commonwealth of Australia, based on his unique interpretation of British and Australian constitutional law.
Despite his advancing years Casley is known as a keen-minded "bush lawyer". He is also an adherent of Hermeticism, a subject on which he has privately published a number of research papers. Casley is married to "Her Serene Highness Princess Shirley" (nee Shirley Butler), by whom he has seven adult children, among them "His Royal Highness Crown Prince Ian" (Ian George Casley, born 1947), who has been designated as his eventual successor as "Sovereign Prince".
"Prince Leonard" is well-known in Australia, where he is viewed affectionately as a harmless eccentric whose tenacity in taking on "big government" is admired by many. He is the subject of a permanent exhibit at the National Museum of Australia, in Canberra.
- "Mini-states Down Under are sure they can secede", by Nick Squires,The Daily Telegraph (UK), 24 February 2005.
- "If at first you don't secede…", by Mark Dapin, The Sydney Morning Herald — Good Weekend, 12 February 2005, pp 47-50