Hutt River Province

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The Principality of the Hutt River Province is a self-proclaimed "independent nation". It was founded on 21 April, 1970 by farmer Leonard George Casley (now describing himself as Prince Leonard) when he and his associates proclaimed their secession from Western Australia, a state of Australia.

No government recognises the Province's claims to independence.

History

In 1969, in response to a long-running dispute with the government of Western Australia over what they saw as draconian wheat quotas, Casley and his associates resorted to an arcane provision in British common law which they felt allowed them to secede and declare their independence from the Commonwealth of Australia. Casley states that he nonetheless remains loyal to Queen Elizabeth II. Casley was elected administrator of the new sovereign state by his family and later styled himself His Royal Highness Prince Leonard of Hutt.

In the early 1980s Hutt River Province declared itself to be a Kingdom, but soon afterwards reverted to its original status of Principality. At about this time 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 in Queensland, on the other side of the Australian continent from Prince Leonard, progressively effectively took over the Province'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 Queensland Gold Coast. At the time of his sudden death in 1995 he and his associates were allegedly seeking to formally overthrow Prince Leonard as "sovereign", install Gale in his place, and establish Hutt River Province 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 Province, and posthumously 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 Province'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 Province 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 province's claims to independence.

Statistics

Hutt River Province is situated 595 km north of Perth, and is about 75 square km in size. Exports include wildflowers, agricultural produce, stamps and coins, while tourism is also important to its economy. In other words, it runs as a farm with a tourist business as a sideline.

Although actual residents are very few, the principality claims a world-wide citizenship of 13,000.

It has no standing army, but a number of its citizens have been awarded military commissions, honorary guardsmen attend the Prince on formal occasions, and despite being completely landlocked, it apparently possesses a navy.

It is "governed" by its founder Prince Leonard and his family, including his wife Princess Shirley and son and heir Crown Prince Ian.

Considered a joke by many and by others as a fine example of thumbing one's nose at the authorities, the continued existence of the Hutt River Province is at the least an interesting footnote in any chapter on the history of Australia's domestic policies, as well as in international legal considerations of what constitutes statehood.

Government

When Hutt River "seceded," a Bill of Rights was drafted. This Bill of Rights was, as the name suggests, a brief document outlining the rights of "Hutt River" 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 left effect, and Hutt River 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 intent to adopt the constitution very soon.

See also

External links

fr:Hutt River


References