(The optical character recognition they’re using is pretty sub-par, or perhaps
it’s the quality of their scans that’s the problem. But they’ve taken an
approach that I haven’t before seen in on-line digitalization of newspaper
archives — they’re inviting users to proofread and correct these automated
transcriptions, wiki-style. So over time the archive may improve in quality.)
The Workers’ Industrial Union of Australia submitted a motion calling for tax
resistance — a tactic I haven’t seen much evidence of in the labor movement
otherwise (though it was a tactic of Marx-aligned democrats in Germany, and of
anti-Czarist revolutionaries in Russia):
[Resolved] That the working class movement throughout Australia refuse to pay
State and Federal income taxes on incomes of £500 or under that amount per
The motion passed.
An article in the
same paper reported
that some union activists had already started using tax resistance in the
Eight cases for the non-payment of income tax were heard
. The following were sent to gaol
for 28 days:— James Fitzgerald, R.H. Green, K. Spain, John O’Neill, Albert
Colley, R.J. Doling. They all admitted having the means, but declined to pay.
The defendants are well-known unionists.
One group of miners’ unions took up a similar tax resistance proposal and went further:
“It is also suggested that if any member is imprisoned, or has his wages
garnisheed, for refusing to pay tax, a general strike will be declared until
the member is released, or his money refunded.“
Tax resistance was also used as a protest against the second-class political
status of the Northern Territory, and against the government’s crackdown on
civil liberties (which was related to the radical union agitation).
Many resisters were jailed, and the resistance was widespread — including even
the mayor of Darwin, Robert Toupein.
According to one
It has been stated that early in Toupein
admitted, in open Court, that the tax was owing, that he had ample means to
pay it, but that he would not pay a penny. His refusal, it is stated, was
because of “no representation” in the Federal Parliament. No step was taken
to enforce the order of the Court, as the police force was inadequate to
stand up to any resistance. It is even alleged that some Government servants
have paid no income tax for two years.
Failure to prosecute the former mayor will surely raise a protest from
residents of the Territory who have paid their taxes regularly. By some it
is contended that the Government has adopted the line of least resistance,
and refrained from collecting the thousands of pounds due only to obviate
all risk of disturbance.
Mr. Hardie Gibson, who followed, dealt chiefly with the payment of income
tax, and referred to the anomly [sic] 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.… 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
The question, paramount above all others in the present and future, is
whether Papuan residents are to sit quiescent and then take the objectionable
medicine of taxation without representation which is being forced upon
them without a say in its expenditure and without a voice in Parliament.
We have been informed that but 10 per cent of the population of Papua have
rendered returns. Are the other 90 per cent going to sit idly by and allow
this insult to their intelligence without a protest? One victim of this
iniquitious impost whose income runs to four figures, has stated
definitely that he will not pay the tax. Dozens of others are murmuring
threats at the Commonwealth’s refusal to grant us the franchise, and have
averred that they will suffer imprisonment rather pay. The many scandals
which have been ventilated, together with other performances, information
of whish [sic] has been suppressed, but which are
gradually coming into the light of day and deserve opprobious censure,
have caused the feeling that we should have some say in the spending of
any moneys paid by us to the Commonwealth Treasury.
One thing and one only is our present demand — Elective representation and
no taxation without it.
“The Courier,” as evidence of its bona fides on the question, has decided,
to form a fund for the defence of any resident who may by victimised,
persecuted, or prosecuted for failure to pay the tax, and to that end we
open the list with a contribution of Five Guineas. Every white resident
throughout Papua is asked to rally to the support of the movement — No
taxation without representation.
A public meeting convened by the Northern Territory Industrial Council at the
instance of the Darwin branch of the Australian Workers Union was held in the
Don Stadium on . The subject for discussion
was: — “Taxation without Representation,[”] with the object of inaugurating
some concerted movement as a protest against such taxation. Mr. J. Thomas,
chairman of the industrial council occupied tho chair. Among the speakers
were Messrs. W. Blount, Hardie Gibson, Alf. Paine, Tom M’Donald and J.
It was moved by Mr. Alf. Paine, and seconded by Mr. T. M’Grath, “That we
citizens of Darwin refuse to pay any taxation until we receive
An amendment was moved by Mr. T. M’Donald, seconded by Mr. J.J.
M’Donald: — “That this meeting of Darwin citizens condemns the injustice of
taxation without representation, and calls upon the Minister through the
Director of the Territory to withdraw all summonses on this head pending the
question of taxation as it effects the Territory being fully discussed, and
that we protest against the system of garnishee as set forth in section 50a of
the Income Tax Assessment Act of ,
and we warn the employers of Darwin that any attempt to put it into force from
this date onwards will lead to industrial trouble.”
A division was taken, and the amendment was carried by a majority of at
least three to one.
A further resolution was passed that the members of the Advisory Council
place the above motion before the Director of the Northern Territory.
(A Contributed Report.)
The following is a resume of the speeches delivered at the public meeting on
Mr. Blunt (Executive Council A.W.U.)
said the present struggle reminded him of the fight for liberty in
, a struggle which he thought would never
occur again in the history of Australia. He referred to the fight in which
the machinery of the Coercion Act was used against them, to the rise and
progress of the Australian Labor Party, the fight for adult suffrage, and
never thought he would again be called upon to participate in a fight for
representation in his own country. For ten years the Territory had been under
the control of an Administrator, and very little was known of the country.
Presuming that the country’s chief industry was stock-raising, the government
appeared to think that the Territory’s best interests would be served by the
appointment of a veterinary surgeon as Administrator at a salary of £2000 a
year. But every effort made for the advancement of the interests of the
Territory was passed out by Gilruth. The ballot box, a boasted institution
throughout the British Empire, was not here, and the situation was irksome to
any man, but especially to those who had enjoyed that privilege in other
parts. Every man had a rightful claim to a say as to in what manner the
country should be governed, and how their money was to be spent. Here in the
Northern Territory they had, however, direct taxation without any form of
representation — an unjust condition of affairs which brought on a feeling
of antagonism to all forms of government. The conduct of the Government
was rapidly creating in the Territory a strong feeling of antagonism to all
forms of Government. We had a striking example of a similar instance when
the British attempted to force the Americans to pay taxes without
representation, with the result that the United States of American sprang
into existence. He referred to the proposal by the British in the American
war of independence, to let loose the Red Indians on the Americans, and to
the statement by Pitt in the House of Commons “Shame on them! They would
not be British if they would not fight for their independence.” Pitt gloried
in the Americans in their struggle. How could a country be honestly governed
if the people had no say? Common sense must tell them that where the
government of a country rested in the hands of two or three people, they
would govern it in their own interests and not in the interests of the
people. They wanted the Government of the Territory more in the hands of the
people and he held that in the local population sufficient brains could be
found without sending 3000 miles away down south.
Mr. Burton, a returned soldier and President of the Darwin Branch
A.W.U., endorsed the remarks of the
previous speaker. He was one of those men who had left this country to
fight for freedom on the other side of the world. Each and every one of
those countries engaged in that bitter war, even the unspeakable Turk, had
representation in the Government of his country. Now he had come back to
his own country to find himself placed on the level of a blackfellow or a
Chinaman. He had no vote. The Germans would have treated him better.
Mr. Gibson (A.M.I.E.U.) referred to
the agitation in Papua where a strong fight was being made against the
injustice of taxation without representation. Territorians must keep up
their reputation and not allow Papua to lead the way. He pointed out one
unjust phase of the question as affecting the Territory in the fact that
the Arbitration Court in New South Wales had ruled that an ordinary
unskilled laborer required not less than 12s per day as a living wage, and
was exempted accordingly. In Queensland the minimum wage Was £200 per
annum, but if living was £50 per annum dearer in Queensland than in Sydney
a further exemption of £50 above Queensland should be allowed in Darwin. He
was afraid that pressing for payment of the tax would create a revolt in
the Territory and he counselled first to endeavour to obtain their end by
peaceful means. Don’t refuse to pay your taxation, but don’t break your
necks running up to the office to pay for fear of a blister. In other
words he counselled passive resistance to see how far the authorities were
prepared to go. They would pick their marks as was done in the cass of the
Mayor, but when the final move was made he would not be in the rear. He did
not want trouble like they had last year, he could not see the necessity
for it, but unless the Government adopted different methods they would
spread the seeds of Bolshevism faster than by any other method. The
Government had hounded men out of jobs they had occupied for years, and
when these unfortunate men again got a job the Government came down with a
blister to take their money back again. Another unfair point: An unskilled
laborer may earn £150 in 14 weeks at the meatworks. The exemption being £56
he would have to pay taxation on the £94 despite the fact that he may be
unemployed for the rest of the year.
Mr. Bollon: We have held meeting after meeting and what good did it do? A few
men hopping over the fence at Gilruth finished things at once. We should
absolutely refuse to pay the tax until representation was granted.
Mr. T. M’Donald said the attitude of the people was not so much against
the tax — it was a question of taxation without representation. In all
countries a certain amount of representation was given before the people
were required to pay the tax, and here in the Commonwcaltih all the States
had representation in Parliament, the Northern Territory being the only
exception. He recognised that they were up against the Commonwealth
Government, and was not anxious to cause trouble. They should be able to
get along without trouble or with the least possible trouble, and he
suggested that the Director of the Territory be asked to keep back
summonses until the people have had a chance to discuss the matter and see
what basis could be arrived at to pay the taxes.
Mr. Paine said he had moved at the
A.W.U. meeting that those present pledge
themselves not to pay the tax till representation was granted. He had been
asked to modify the motion but refused to do so. They should [pay?] nothing,
but sit tight and let the Government do their best. Hang out — stick to it!
Mr. Culliney: Can you tell us what to do if they put the bailiff in? It is
all very well to lead us into the forest, but who is to lead us out?
Mr. Paine said the baliff was a tough question, but if none would pay, no
one would compel him.
Mr. Balding said he had refused to pay 12 months ago. Since then he had had
numerous notices from the Government through the post. A Government officer
had been instructed to stop the amount out of his pay, but he had challenged
them to do so without an order from the Court despite the fact that he had
got a barrister’s opinion that they could legally do so.
In answer to a question Mr. Gibson said the Act was rotten and ought to be
passed out of the country along with the party that passed it.
The Mayor Before the Court.
On , before Mr. E.C. Playford,
S.M., Robert Toupein, Mayor of Darwin,
was charged on an unsatisfied judgment summons, by the Commissioner of
Taxation, for whom Mr. D.A. Roberts appeared, with non-payment of income tax.
Defendant, who went into the witness box, admitted owing the amount, but
stated that he declined, on principle, to pay income tax until such time as
political representation was granted to the Northrn Trritory. An order was
made for payment forthwith, but, so far as we have been able to ascertain,
payment has not yet been made.
The agriculturalists of 25 villages in the Bardoli district, the centre of
the “no tax” movement in West India, made a dramatic evacuation as a protest
against the new unlawful association ordinance. The district, which has an
area of 222 square miles and a population of 82,000 agriculturalists, is, on
account of the congress agitation for non-payment of taxes, three years in
arrears, the amount involved being £18,800.
When the ordinance was applied the villagers anticipated the measures for
the attachment of their property, and when the tax officers arrived they
found only deserted villages. The inhabitants had left, taking everything
movable, including the newly harvested rice crop, household goods, and
cattle. It was discovered that the villagers had been secretly removing
goods and crops by night across the border into Baroda State territory,
where the Baroda villagers harboured and helped them.
I look forward to seeing more Chicago newspaper archives become freely
available some day, but until then, we can get peeks at some of the coverage
of the large-scale property tax strike of the 1930s there in articles like
from The Argus.
Australian passengers on the Orion refused to pay the 7/11 landing tax at
Port Said to Egyptian quarantine officials and threatened to remain on
board. Shopkeepers, realising that they were losing trade, surrounded the
officials with waving fists and the tax was waived.
The quarantine men imposed the tax recently as part of an anti-British
dispatch from Melbourne noted
that “[b]etween 500 and 600 young men refused to pay the amusement tax at the
Stadium last night to witness a boxing match between Edwards and Palmer. They
were patrons of the lower-priced seats. The manager of the Stadium argued with
the spokesmen for the crowd for some time, but neither side would yield, and
the result was that the attendance was much smaller than usual.”
And here’s a
story that will warm the hearts of those pining for an offshore tax haven
to call their own:
DEFIANT ISLANDERS AND TAXES
Islanders living off Galway County refuse to pay their taxes and the County
Council does not know what to do. In the case of some islands off the coast
no person can be found, even with the offer of very attractive remuneration,
to undertake the position of collector, and where collectors are available on
the mainland owners of boats have refused to facilitate their passage to the
On a few occasions the Civic Guards have persuaded the owners to lend their
service and their boats, or their boats alone, for the guards to cross. In
such cases the guards have met with anything but a cordial reception.