Understanding and responding to the sovereign cizen movement in Australia

Dr Daniel Baldino1,  Mr Kosta Lucas2

1University of Notre Dame, Fremantle, Australia ,

2Synq Up, Perth, Australia

Sovereign cizens exhibit unique threats to law enforcement. So what exactly do sovereigns believe, what are their taccs and is the label ‘terrorist threat’ appropriately applied? This paper will explore the extent that an- government extremists, oen labelled as ‘sovereign cizens’, pose to naonal security in Australia. In 2015, sovereign cizens had been idenfied as a potenal terrorism threat in Australia by a confidenal NSW Police report. Other related crimes have revolved around inmidaon of law enforcement officers as well as comming mortgage, credit card, tax and loan fraud, including a recent Australian Taxaon Office legal fight against the self-proclaimed royal family of an invented principality in WA’s wheat-fields. Similarly, in 2019, the NSW government used the Terrorism (High Risk Offenders) Act 2017 against a sovereign cizen sympathiserwho had threatened an MP. Given the ideological origins of this movement began in 1960s in the US, the paper will also idenfy transnaonal trends across the Western world related to the internaonalisaon of the sovereign movement based on individuals or groups who believe that federal authority is unlawful. Finally, it will examine the benefits associated with, and limitaons of, convenonal responses to extremism and the tools of counter-terrorism in its applicaon to such a self-styled right-wing movement. Problemacally, evidence suggests that interacons with police have amplified with a notable increase in threats of violence.


Daniel Baldino is a political scientist specialising in Australian foreign, defence and security policy including counter-terrorism, intelligence studies and government and politics of the Indo-Pacific at the University of Notre Dame, Fremantle. In 2000, he was a Research Associate at the Library of Congress, Washington DC. In 2009 he was a visiting scholar within the Security and Governance Program, East-West Center, Hawaii, USA. In 2015, he was a visiting scholar at The Canadian Centre of Intelligence and Security Studies, University of Carleton, Ottawa. He has also provided education and professional development programs at the University of Fiji. He has produced numerous books and articles. His edited book (with Langlois, A and Carr, A) Controversies in Australian Foreign Policy: the core debates, published by Oxford University Press, was the winner of the Australian Institute of International Affairs’ inaugural publication grant. He is currently the Western Australian chapter convener for Australian Institute for Professional Intelligence Officers (AIPIO) as well as an Associate Editor for the Journal of the Indian Ocean Region.

Kosta Lucas is a researcher and practitioner in preventing and countering violent extremism in a wide range of policy, research and grassroots program development roles. Most notably, Kosta was the Chief Program Director of People against Violent Extremism (PaVE), Australia’s first bespoke countering violent extremism non-government organisation founded by the Hon. Dr Anne Aly MP in 2013. He has since moved on to start his own initiative, Synq Up, an independent initiative aimed at preventing community harming behaviours through the use of creative media and arts, communications and conflict resolution. Through Synq Up, Kosta works with a broad range of public and private organisations to create a greater community consciousness around the myriad of factors that contribute to violent extremism in Australia and abroad. Most recently, Kosta was selected to be a member of the European Union’s Radicalisation Awareness Network’s Expert Pool, contributing expertise on areas of youth engagement, prevention and community resilience. In addition to his work through Synq Up, Kosta has been a sessional academic with Notre Dame University since 2016, tutoring in areas such as Terrorism and Intelligence and Global Development. He is also in the process of completing his Masters of Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Sydney.


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