The right to secede

I’ve often thought that NSW should secede from Australia. In terms of fascilitating a freeing up of domestic trade, federation has essentially been a failure. The intention was to remove domestic trade barriers but the Federal income tax now represents a larger barrier to inter-household trade than a few excise duties on border crossings ever did. The only sense in which federation can really be considered a success is in forging a common cultural identity, and even that is over rated. If NSW did secede then we could do the rest of the country a big favour by land locking Canberra.

Of course talk of NSW seceding isn’t likely to go mainstream any time soon. However the Texans are not afraid to talk about the idea. Their state governor recently suggested it was an option;

“There’s a lot of different scenarios,” Perry said. “We’ve got a great union. There’s absolutely no reason to dissolve it. But if Washington continues to thumb their nose at the American people, you know, who knows what might come out of that. But Texas is a very unique place, and we’re a pretty independent lot to boot.” #

Here is the governor talking to the point.

Any half decent system of federalism should codify reasonably means for an orderly secession of states. However few seem to. Historically the USA has been quite aggressive towards states that attempt to secede.

26 thoughts on “The right to secede

  1. Hey, TerjeP, you should have waited until today, because this is the 39th anniversary of the birth of Hutt River Principality!
    He seceded, and has not paid taxes since! (Therefore we know he really did win!).
    Interestingly enough, he claimed that his right to secede was implicite in English law- therefore we all have the right to secede! And a place called Snake Hill, near Mudgee, has done that, in 2003!
    so this could be our Libertarian Celebration Day.

  2. Try ‘’. I have that address from the book,’Micro Nations’.

  3. Western Australia had a referendum on seceding from Australia in the 1930s. Apparently 68% voted in favour but then nobody could figure out what to do next and so nothing actually happened. Quite an appauling controvension of the peoples right to self determination.

    A good federal system should have a mechanism for states to be fragmented into multiple states and also for individual states to secede from the federation entirely. I’d also suggest that central governments should never be given direct tax powers but should instead be funded by the states either via grants or some fixed allocation of state raised revenue. Central governments ought to exist only to ensure things such as free trade, free movement, free speech and national defense.

    New Zealand had the good sense to secede in advance. 😉

  4. “Central govts. ought to exist only to ensure things such as free trade, free movement, free speech and defence”
    If you mean only things that would be highly impractical for the individual states to do, then I agree wholeheartedly.
    But otherwise is not the virtue of federalism the concept that people can march to the beat of a different drum. As long as we have what we recognise as manifest freedoms in our state does it really matter what the inhabitants of other states choose? Let them control speech, movement or the market if they wish. Different state government policies will ultimately lead to a transmigration of freedom loving peoples to some states and collectivists, interventionists and otherwise spiritualists to other states. The result? Everyone will be happy in living in their own promised land.

  5. Philip – you can’t readily live in your promised land if freedom of movement is not assured.

  6. This is actually a reaffirmation of the 10th Amendment which states: The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

    This is being done by quite a few Red States in response to the growing appetite for power of the Feds. It has been noted that there is a considerable sentiment towards secession in Texas, however the majority including some of those who think the state has the right to secede prefer to remain a part of the States.

    The Rasmussen Report indicates:

    Thirty-one percent (31%) of Texas voters say that their state has the right to secede from the United States and form an independent country.

    However, the latest Rasmussen Reports poll in the state finds that if the matter was put to a vote, it wouldn’t even be close. Three-fourths (75%) of Lone Star State voters would opt to remain in the United States. Only 18% would vote to secede, and seven percent (7%) are not sure what they’d choose.

    Texas Governor Rick Perry, in response to a reporter’s question about secession at a protest “tea party,” said Wednesday, “We’ve got a great union. There’s absolutely no reason to dissolve it. But if Washington continues to thumb their nose at the American people, you know, who knows what might come out of that? But Texas is a very unique place, and we’re a pretty independent lot to boot.”

    It appears to be a determination by these states not to allow any further power to be stripped from them in favor of the Federal Government and part of a growing groundswell of resentment towards Washington.

  7. The High Court has ruled that session is unconstitutional, as the Constitution states in the preamble “have agreed to unite in one indissoluble Federal Commonwealth”. I think this was the issue with WA.

    Personally, I think a better idea for us to consider would be the creation of new states – Carpentaria would be an obvious choice, as would dividing up WA…

  8. TerjeP,
    Yes, I stand corrected. Movement between states must be guaranteed by the federal government. I’m not sure I understand the significance of liberphilia not necessarily being hereditary.

  9. Some people are worried that states leaving the Union would lead to another civil war. I don’t think this would be likely, far more likely that a few other states would also want to leave. New Hampshire has the growing Free State Project, California has Californian Independence, which is very small, and a few of the Indian tribes have succession movements as well.

    I doubt we will see it turn into bloodshed. A war would be immensely expensive, would require that Americans kill each other, and would involve an invasion of a gun filled Texas.

    I tell people who would be overly Jealous and want to see some sort of punishment for people showing their independence that it could benefit them if a State leaves. If California were to leave the Union the remaining 49 states would lose the huge blue state. The Democrats would likely never win another presidential election again unless they seriously changed their policies around. And likewise if Texas were to leave, the Republicans in the remaining 49 would be at a considerable disadvantage. If you are Democrat, it is in your best interest to see Texas leave.

    Some states pay out huge sums into the federal government and then only receive a fraction back. For every $1 Californians pay into the Federal Government California only gets back like $0.47. Other states however for every dollar they pay in get back like $1.95, their state governments are literally paid for by other states. These states which payout a lot more have a big of an incentive to want to leave.

  10. Riley,
    some places here have seceded (see comment 2 above), but I don’t think an Australian State can legally secede. So can you tell us about homes that are kingdoms in America?

  11. Declaring your home as a kingdom is an excellent way to get shot. A Micronation within the US would be unlikely and it enables the rest of people to label the group as ‘those nuts go kill em’. The only succession movements I have heard about within the US have been organizations developed at getting entire states to leave and Indian tribes wanting to leave. Actually, the tribal land is considered ‘sovereign’ and typically don’t follow most of California laws, ie they allow smoking in restaurants and gambling but anything serious will involve the State or Feds.

    Patri Friedman, grandson of Milton Friedman, spoke at the NH FSP Liberty Convention about creating floating communities out at sea

  12. Hi,

    We stumbled across your website and found your comments regarding Snake Hill and secession in general interesting.

    We are real, we do exist, and we have correspondence from some pretty important people who were also surprised by our secession.

    You`re quite right – we were shafted, badly!

    Thank you very much for writing honestly about us and our situation.

    Some people who have joined us have also been badly shafted (by the same court).

    So we do have citizens.


  13. Can I call you Snake? Nice to hear from you. How are you doing in regard to taxes- do the Feds leave you alone?
    And how do you survive, economically? Trade with your one big neighbour?

  14. Hi Nicholas,
    Regarding taxes, as we are all property theft victims (mainly investment properties) we all have pretty large losses.
    We survive with trade, but not necessarily with our closest neighbour.


  15. Maybe what the world needs is a United Micronations, where you all recognise each other, and have a round of conferences in each other’s capitals, whether or not the UN recognises you! United is more impressive than single- and you might all be able to afford one ambassador to the UN together!

  16. Hi TerjeP and Nicholas,

    We wanted to form a united front with micro-nations a few years ago, and even started the Micro Nations Trade Association, but there were no takers.

    Everyone has their own agenda, and we`re all busy pushing our individual agendas.

    All the best,

  17. Unfortunately, I stumbled across this web site probably 6 months after the discussion has ended. But I am happy to see that the issue has been on the minds of other thinking people too.

    I don’t know about secession of NSW or other states or regions from Australia and it may not even be constitutional. However, I do believe that NSW (and to a lesser degree Victoria) get shafted by the Commonwealth which has a bias to the smaller states in distributing state grants.

    I do strongly believe that our states are physically too large and too centralised in their respective state capitals. Nthn NSW should have seceded from NSW years ago as the new state of New England allowing the region to concentrate on it’s own specific issues. With a population of about 1.7m it would be larger than SA, Tas, ACT and NT in population and GDP. Macquarie Street has proven totally incapable of governing non metropolitan areas in a fair and even way that benefits the regions and the state as a whole. It is Sydney-centric and seems to have little thought for areas outside the Sydney basin other than as a means of royalties and duties to help balance the budget and fund programs in the capital. Other regions in NSW, Qld and probably WA also have strong claims to self government. Our founding fathers even envisioned and expected that this would be a natural progression and wrote provision for it in the Constitution. I think that they would be quite astounded to find that the Commonwealth in 2010 is essentially the same now as it was in 1901. They probably would have expected there to be perhaps 10 or 12 states by now – not just the original 6.

    I do think that the relationship between the states and the commonwealth needs an overhaul. Income tax only passed from the states to the commonwealth in the years immediately prior to WWII in response to the mutual defence threat faced by the nation. That has long since passed and taxation should revert back to the states with some agreed funding mechanism in the form of state grants back to the Commonwealth as needed to fund the common issues of defence and social welfare in proportion to population and state GDP.

  18. My understanding is that it’s not against international law, and it’s not against national law to secede.

    It’s against the law not to pay taxes, and not to obey the law, or to attempt or conspire to violently overthrow the government. But it’s not against the law to secede and start a new association with a new state.

    The UN member states, including Australia, recognise the right of self-determination of peoples. There is no minimum size of a state. Becoming an independent state does not require permission, or recognition. It requires a certain state of fact, namely:
    a) a defined territory
    b) a permanent population
    c) a government, and
    d) an ability to enter into relations with other states,
    which is why Hutt River Principality qualified.

    The recognition of other states through cordial correspondence also helps.

    Google also Snake Hill Principality, a sovereign state in NSW that seceded in 2003, and which has received the recognition of the Queen, the G-G, and Prime Minister.

    On the other hand, taken to its logical end, the right of self-determination of peoples, with no minimum number, should extend right down to the right of the individual to end his political association with the state of his nationality, and thus spell the end of taxation and statehood as we know it, that is, as a legal monopoly of compulsion and taxation.

  19. Hello Peter Hume & New England new state,

    It is completely legal to secede, with the right reasons. It is not legal for any country to deny a right to secede, with valid reasons.
    It is actually a fundamental part of international law that people have an inherent right to secede.

    The right to own property is a fundamental right, either within a large state or as a small secessionist state.

    Unfortunately, courts & politicians don`t like any of us having that right and they are quick to say that there is nothing that can be done to uphold that right.

    Please contact me directly if you would like to discuss this matter further.


  20. New England new state
    “…funding mechanism in the form of state grants back to the Commonwealth as needed to fund the common issues of defence and social welfare in proportion to population and state GDP.”

    I certainly believe in the essence of what you say but I’m not so sure about some minor points.
    “common issues of …social welfare” and paying the cmlth “in proportion to …state GDP”?

    The very concept of federalism is that different states can follow their own individual ideologies. What’s the use of having six (or more) different state governments if they can’t create their own laws?

    If they can create their own laws but someone else is always there to pick up the (social welfare and paying for defense) tab then obviously there is always the incentive for some state govt. to blow their budget by legislating more public holidays, shorter working weeks and more free community centers, museums, art galleries and other “cultural” centers.

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