The Principality of Hutt River, which broke away from Australia in 1970 after a dispute over a wheat quota, has launched a supporters campaign after being hit with a $3 million tax bill.
Earlier this month the Supreme Court in Western Australia ruled that the principality, Australia’s oldest micronation, must pay tax for the seven years to 2013.
The principality, which argues that the Australian Tax Office (ATO) previously ruled that it was non-resident for tax purposes, is now raising a fund to fight the ruling.
While the principality stands out among micronations in that it doesn’t sell honours — they are only awarded on merit — Hutt River is offering financial supporters membership in one of its four orders of chivalry.
You can become an officer of the Illustrious Order of Merit for $50, and receive a certificate and a lapel pin, or become a Member for just $35. The details are here.
This financial supporter membership comes with postnominals, the right to place MIOM for Member and OIOM for Officer after your name, and close in the rankings to a knighthood.
These two levels are the first and second rungs on the order’s membership after which comes Commander and four types of senior knights (which come with the title Sir).
The Illustrious Order of Merit is third in order of precedence of the four orders in the principality.
Normally, honours are announced each year in the principality.
Among those honoured are musician Keith Kerwin, awarded a knighthood for composing the principality’s national anthem, and the late writer Colleen McCullough who was a Baroness of Hutt.
Earlier this year, Captain Peter Hammarstedt of the environment group Sea Shepherd was awarded the Rank of Knight Commander of the Order of Wisdom and Learning.
“Whilst honours of the Principality are not available for purchase, we have made special editions of these two honours to those willing to show their support by the payment of a few dollars into the PHR fighting fund,” writes Prince Graeme, who took over from his father, founder Prince Leonard, as sovereign earlier this this year.
“We now have the opportunity to prove our case of independence from the Commonwealth of Australia by providing the Supreme Court of Western Australia with all the evidence that proves that we are in fact a Sovereign Nation in law.”
Prince Graeme told Business Insider the response so far has been fabulous, with enquiries from Australia and internationally.
“PHR (Principality of Hutt River) has always had a wide interest from people, domestically and internationally,” he says.
“This prompted our supporters page as a response from those many interested persons that asked, ‘How can I help?’
“We felt this was an appropriate way at this stage. Very tangible and the supporters have satisfied their needs to assist.”
Prince Leonard, now aged 91, earlier this year stepped down as sovereign in favour of Prince Graeme, his youngest of four sons, a former primary school teacher.
The family established the micronation, 595km north of Perth, after an argument over wheat production quotas.
Hutt River is a significant tourist attraction with its own coins and stamps which it offers to collectors worldwide.
Prince Leonard has always maintained that the principality’s secession has been acknowledged by Australia.
In the 1970s, he received a letter from then Governor-General Sir Paul Hasluck addressing him as the “Administrator of the Hutt River Province” which was, he said, legally binding recognition of the principality.
And last year a letter was received from Buckingham Palace addressed to “Prince Leonard” with the Queen’s good wishes on the anniversary of the principality seceding from Australia.
Here are the membership levels in the Order of Merit:
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