June 16 2017 - 12:00PM
WA’s Hutt River ‘royals’ must pay $3 million tax bill after ‘gobbledegook’ defence fails
The Hutt River Province “royals” have been ordered to pay more than $3 million in unpaid taxes after a West Australian Supreme Court judge described their arguments as bizarre, irrelevant and gobbledegook.
Leonard Casley, 91, who called himself Prince Leonard when he set up the legally unrecognised independent state after a row over wheat production quotas in 1970, and his son Arthur had argued the court did not have jurisdiction because they had seceded from Australia.
But Justice Rene Le Miere ruled on Friday that the argument had no legal merit or substance.
“Anyone can declare themselves a sovereign in their own home, but they cannot ignore the laws of Australia or not pay tax,” he said.
Justice Le Miere also described the pseudo-legal straw man theory argument as “gobbledegook”.
Under the theory, an individual has two personas, and their debts and legal responsibilities belong to the “straw man” rather than the physical person who incurred them, conveniently allowing them to avoid their obligations.
Justice Le Miere said the pair also made other irrelevant statements ranging from “the merely irrelevant to the bizarre” such as claiming the Australian Taxation Office used 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,” he said.
Mr Casley was ordered to pay income tax of more than $2.7 million, covering several years, while his son must pay more than $242,600.
The 75 square kilometre “principality” is a privately-owned wheat property, north of Geraldton, in WA’s Mid West region.
Mr Casley served a notice of secession at the time, even notifying the Queen, and since then has committed other acts he claims are of an independent sovereign state, including declaring war on Australia.
He abdicated his sovereignty earlier this year, placing his son Prince Graeme, 60, into the role.
The tourist attraction has its own postage stamps and currency, has 10,000 non- resident citizens and also has a treaty with indigenous land owners.
The Queen even wrote to Mr Casley to mark the province’s anniversary.