22 June 2017

Hutt again goes phutt

My doctoral dissertation features a discussion of the legal status of sovereign citizens - recall Ulysses &  Child Support Registrar [2007] FamCA 1395, [7], McKinnon v R [2005] NZCA 94, [6], Robert Mcjannett v Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union of Workers [2012] WAIRComm 1111, [14] and Van den Hoorn v Ellis [2010] QDC 451, [2] - and of pseudo-states such as Atlantium, Camside and the Hutt River Principality or notables such as the Duke of Avram (who modestly proclaimed he was Grand Duke of Avram, Marquis of Mathra, Earl of Enoch, Viscount Ulom, Lord Rama, Cardinal and Archbishop of the Royal See of the Continent of Australia).

I was accordingly amused but unsurprised to see the Western Australia Supreme Court judgment in Deputy Commission of Taxation v Casley [2017] WASC 161 last week.

 Le Miere J states
In CIV 3132 of 2016 the plaintiff, the Deputy Commissioner of Taxation, claims against the defendant, Leonard Casley for debts due and payable for income tax, interest and penalties in respect of the income years ended 30 June 2006 to 30 June 2013. Leonard Casley has entered a conditional appearance and applied for an order that the writ of summons be set aside 'for reasons of jurisdiction'. The Deputy Commissioner has applied for summary judgment.
In CIV 1603 of 2017 the Deputy Commissioner claims against Arthur Casley for debts due and payable for income tax, interest and penalties in respect of the income years ended 30 June 2006 to 30 June 2012. Arthur Casley has applied for an order that the writ of summons be set aside on the ground that the court does not have jurisdiction to hear the claims. The Deputy Commissioner has applied for summary judgment. ...
Each of the defendants has filed an affidavit and written submissions and made oral submissions to the effect that the court does not have jurisdiction over the defendant or to hear the matter because they are the sovereign of, or citizen of, the Hutt River Province which is an independent sovereign state. That argument has 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.
Each of the defendants advances the pseudo legal straw man argument. The straw man argument has no legal merit or substance. Leonard Casley advances an argument based on the Hutt River Province being the political and financial branch of the church of Nian. That argument has no legal merit or substance. The defendants have made other assertions in their affidavits and submissions which are irrelevant and raise no defence to the claims against them. In each action the defendant has no defence to the claims by the Deputy Commissioner. In each action judgment will be entered in favour of the Deputy Commissioner against each defendant.
The  judgment states
The jurisdiction argument - secession
11 Each of the defendants asserts that the court has no jurisdiction over them or no jurisdiction to hear these claims. In essence, they say that the land on which they reside is part of the Principality of Hutt River which seceded from Australia and is no longer part of Australia, that they are the sovereign or a citizen of Hutt River, a sovereign independent state, they are not residents of Australia, the laws of Australia and in particular the taxation laws do not apply to them and this court has no jurisdiction over them.
12 In 1970 Leonard Casley was a wheat farmer. He was aggrieved by the wheat quotas allocated to his business. He served a notice of secession on the Western Australian Premier, the Governor, the Prime Minister and the Governor General. He also notified the Queen. Since then he has taken other steps which he believes are the acts of an independent sovereign state including declaring war on Australia. He is convinced that, in taking these steps, he succeeded in separating Hutt River from Australia.
13 Covering cl 5 of the Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act 1900 (Imp) (Constitution Act) relevantly provides: This Act, and all laws made by the Parliament of the Commonwealth under the Constitution, shall be binding on the courts, judges, and people of every State and every part of the Commonwealth, notwithstanding anything in the laws of any State ... This court is bound by and to give effect to the Constitution Act and to any law made by the Parliament of the Commonwealth under the Constitution, including the TAA.
14 In 2007 Leonard Casley applied to the High Court to remove two sets of proceedings from the Geraldton Magistrates Court to the High Court under s 40 of the Judiciary Act 1903 (Cth). Each of the proceedings related to offences of not filing taxation returns. The applicants contended that they reside in the so called Hutt River Province and that that is not part of Australia and not subject to Australian taxation laws. In dismissing their applications Heydon J said:
The arguments advanced by the applicants are fatuous, frivolous and vexatious: Casley v Commissioner of Taxation [2007] HCA Trans 590.
The observations of Heydon J are apt to describe the arguments advanced by the defendants in this case.
Jurisdiction - Straw man
15 In an affidavit filed by Leonard Casley he swore:
I am the Real Man, Leonard George Casley born at Kalgoorlie Western Australia on 27 August 1925. Upon the registration of my birth certificate, it is claimed that I became a ward of the state. Owing allegiance to the Monarch, under contract and the Monarch undertakes the protection of myself and my property. ... I am Leonard George Casley, a real man not a straw man. The Straw Man is a fictitious body, which does not exist, but is that which is controlled by the State, and the State's judiciary.
An affidavit filed by Arthur Casley contains similar statements. This appears to be a variant of the strange pseudolegal straw man theory. The theory holds that an individual has two personas, one of himself as a real flesh and blood human being and the other, a separate legal personality who is the straw man. The idea is that an individual's debts, liabilities, taxes and legal responsibilities belong to the straw man rather than the physical individual who incurred those obligations, conveniently allowing one to escape their debts and responsibilities. It is all gobbledygook.
Jurisdiction - church of Nain
16 Leonard Casley referred to the establishment of the church of Nain. In a document filed in the court Mr Casley said that the Hutt River Province Principality is the political and financial branch of the church of Nain. In answer to a question from the court Mr Casley referred to s 116 of the Constitution which precludes the Commonwealth from making laws for establishing any religion, imposing any religious observance or prohibiting the free exercise of any religion. It has nothing to do with the defendants' liability to pay tax.
Other matters advanced by defendants
17 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.
Conclusion
18 The defendants have not made out any of their assertions that the court does not have jurisdiction over them or jurisdiction to hear the plaintiff's claims. The application of each of the defendants to set aside the writ will be dismissed.