Prepare for another war? Former “Prince”, Leonard Casley, ordered to pay $2.7Million to ATO

The former self-declared Prince of the “Hutt River Province” in Western Australia has been ordered by the Supreme Court of Western Australia to pay more than AUD$2.7 million to the Australian Taxation Office.

Almost 50 years ago, Leonard Casley established the self-described “principality” and “independent country” in outback Western Australia, appointing himself sovereign, as part of an ongoing battle with the Western Australian government over “draconian” wheat production quotas.

The Principality has since grown in prominence, such that it now has its own currency in circulation (the “Hutt River dollar”), regularly welcomes tourists and stamps their passports, and famously, back in December 1977, declared war on Australia, (which was a conflict that only lasted several days and resulted in no actual deaths, causalities, or even hostilities).

Sadly, last Friday, Justice Le Miere of the Court delivered a short, written judgment, noting that Messrs Casley had not raised proper defences to claims by the ATO for the payment of tax since June 2006.

His Honour stated that there was no legal merit or substance in the argument that the Court did not have jurisdiction to hear the matter because the defendants were sovereigns, or citizens, of the Hutt River Province, an independent sovereign state.

His Honour stated:

In affidavits and submissions filed by the defendants they made numerous other statements irrelevant to the issues before the court. They range from the merely irrelevant to the bizarre, such as the statement that the ATO has been utilising a form of torture known as ‘Old Hags Nagging’. It is not sensible or a proper use of judicial resources to recite and analyse all of the defendants’ utterances masquerading as legal submissions. It is sufficient to say that none of them raises a defence to the Deputy Commissioner’s claims or any reason why there ought to be a trial of the claims”.

It has been reported that former Prince Casley is considering an appeal of the decision to the Court of Appeal, or High Court.

The former Prince had, in any event, abdicated his throne to his son, Graeme Casley, earlier this year, before the Court’s decision was delivered.