Cindy Sheehan Interviews War Tax Resisters Ruth Benn and Ed Hedemann

Ruth Benn and Ed Hedemann of NWTRCC are going to be guests of Cindy Sheehan this evening on her call-in show, which, as I understand it, is something like a radio show but you tune in by calling a conference call line (218.632.0995, code #73223). The show starts at . Sheehan promises to replay and archive the show on her “Soapbox” starting on if you miss it.

From the Adelaide Register:

No Rights, No Taxes!

Darwin’s Passive Resistance.

A public meeting was held in the town hall last night, presided over by the Mayor (Cr. Watts), under the auspices of the State Hotel Bar Boycott Committee. The speakers, generally, announced their intention to refrain from payment of income tax until the rights of citizenship had been secured by the appointment of a local advisory board, and advised those present to do likewise. Lists of passive resisters will be opened throughout the Territory, and a levy of 10/ has been struck. Unionists have made an appeal to non-unionists and the townspeople for a voluntary subscription of a similar amount.

Sr. Ferricks will be met by a monster procession on his arrival, and existing grievances will be laid before him.

Another article put it this way:

No Income Tax.

Darwin’s Latest Move.

An Organised Campaign.

At a well-attended meeting, held in the Town Hall, and presided over by the mayor, it was resolved to enter upon an organised campaign against the payment of income tax, pending the rights of citizenship being granted. Towards the expenses a levy of 10/ has been struck for all unionists, and an appeal has been made to citizens to fall into line.

Another articled added the detail that “The hotel bar boycott has now lasted six weeks, and will continue until bottled beer has been reduced from 1s 9d to 1s 3d, and until the Hotel Victoria bar is thrown open to the public.” The Townsville Daily Bulletin also covered the beer boycott, noting that “The price of beer was subsequently reduced, but the boycott was not lifted.”

The Worker spelled out some of the beer grievance in excerpts “from a special article from Darwin to the ‘Standard’ ”:

Under a self-imposed ordinance, Gilruth decreed that beer, when bought wholesale at his liquor store, must return at least 35 per cent profit, while whisky at 50 per cent is not enough, for the Administrator not only insists but demands a profit of 75 per cent on all retail sales, even including recognized brands of bottled goods. Added to this law is another than any person cannot import any liquor from Brisbane, Sydney, or anywhere else; that you must drink only one brand of beer (Carlton Brewery, Melbourne) and three brands of whisky. If you violate this glorious law you are a felon, and you shall receive a £100 fine and 12 months’ imprisonment, and dwell with niggers in jail.

On an ordinance decreed that, owing to the new Federal supertax of 5–6d. per pint increase on beer, the Administrator passed on the tax by charging an increase of threepence per pint. A meeting was held in the Town Hall, Darwin. The Mayor presided, and a resolution was carried to boycott the State hotels until such time as a satisfactory reason was given for this latest act of the Administration. A deputation was appointed to meet Gilruth, with the usual result.

What must the Southern taxpayer think when he knows that here in Darwin, where we have a white population of roughly 2300, he has to pay to keep a warship, as well as 80 soldiers, to force us in free Australia to knuckle down to the dictates of an individual who is not an Australian and, worse still, has not the slightest regard for Australian sentiment, and obstinately denies us what is enjoyed elsewhere in Australia. If you think it reasonable or logical to live like human beings down South, while we, who are pioneers and deserve far greater consideration, are crushed down to the same level as Chinamen and aborigines, then the time has come for you to thoroughly awaken, for we are refusing to pay the Territory and Commonwealth income taxes, and no warship will compel the citizens to respect an Administrator or his precious system after a six years’ glorious trial, brimful of tragedies, or to permit the Government to continue an unrepresentative, rotten system at the point of a bayonet or by the intimidation of a gunboat. Pay on, pay on, brothers of the South, for we absolutely refuse to upkeep this state of affairs.

The Western Argus noted (on ) that “The hotel bar boycott has now lasted six weeks, and the boycott committee is paying the wages of the three barmen out of employment.”

The Northern Territory Times and Gazette gave a more detailed account of the meeting, including the following:

In his concluding remarks the Mayor [Watts] congratulated the people of the Northern Territory upon the loyal manner in which the boycott of the State Hotel Bars, which had now lasted six weeks, had been adhered to. No one in Darwin was drinking at the State Hotel bars now except among “the heads,” some of whom might be looking for another billet before long when the people got their rights. Mr. Hardie Gibson, who followed, dealt chiefly with the payment of income tax, and referred to the anomaly of residents of the Northern Territory being asked to contribute towards the cost of their own coercion, and the upkeep of a most despotic regime. Mr. R.M. Balding briefly endorsed Mr. Hardie Gibson’s remarks, and stated that, if the men of the Northern Territory were true to their own interests, the Fannie Bay penal establishment would have to be considerably enlarged before it could hold all those who refused to pay income tax.… Cr. [Harold] Nelson also read out a statement of receipts and expenditure in connection with the boycott committee. A motion was proposed to the effect that a levy of ten shillings be struck on all residents of the Northern Territory, but this was amended so as to provide for a levy of ten shillings being struck upon all unionists, and for a voluntary subscription of a like amount being asked for from all other men in the Northern Territory, with the exception of those out of employment, who would not be expected to contribute. A collecting committee was appointed to canvass the town for subscriptions. A reception committee was also appointed to meet Senator Ferricks upon his arrival by steamer from the south, when another monster procession will take place, regarding which due notice will be given as soon as is possible. With regard to income tax, those who purpose resisting payment thereof were asked to affix their signature to lists which will be prepared and left at certain business places for that purpose. A meeting of the reception committee was afterwards held, presided over by Cr. Robt Toupein, at which a number of details connected with the visit of Senator Ferricks were discussed, and certain arrangements decided upon.

A later telegram from Watts to the central government read, in part:

Boycott hotel bars and liquor store still strictly observed by citizens, and is now commencing tenth week, also citizens making determined stand, on passive resistance lines, to refuse to pay Commonwealth and Territory income taxes until such time as Australian citizen rights are restored.

Gilruth fled Darwin on , never to return. Harold Nelson did do time in Fannie Bay for his tax resistance, but had the last laugh when he became the first parliamentary representative of the Northern Territory.