IN THE FEDERAL COURT OF AUSTRALIA
QUEENSLAND DISTRICT REGISTRY
No. QG 7309 of 1998
In the matter of DAVID C KEENAN
DEPUTY COMMISSIONER OF TAXATION
DAVID C KEENAN
AFFIDAVIT SUPPORTING GROUNDS OF OPPOSITION
I, DAVID C KEENAN, of 116 Bowman Parade, BARDON 4065 in the State of Queensland, 39 year old Software Engineer, solemnly affirm that -
- The definition of "conscientious belief" that I adopt in this document is that of the Defence Act 1903. This act recognises the right of conscientious objectors to refuse to serve in a military capacity during times of war and defines a conscientious belief as one which:
(a) involves a fundamental conviction of what is morally right and morally wrong, whether or not based on religious considerations; and
(b) is so compelling in character for that person that he or she is duty bound to espouse it; and
(c) is likely to be of a long standing nature.
- Since childhood I have held a conscientious belief in every human being's right to their life, and in the immorality of taking another's life against their will. I continue the beliefs of my parents in this regard. This is merely what the law requires of everyone, except when those human lives are defined as those of enemies in war. I cannot allow myself that exception.
DAVID C KEENAN, 116 Bowman Parade, BARDON 4065.
Telephone: (07) 3366 2660
Electronic mail: Dave Keenan [Address removed]
World Wide Web: http://users.bigpond.net.au/d.keenan [URL updated]
- I also have a conscientious belief that there is no difference morally between, taking a human life directly, and, either paying someone else to do so, or supplying equipment to facilitate such killing, or providing training in such killing. I understand that, in cases of murder, the law would recognise such actions as also being murder. The abovementioned beliefs form a major part of my religious commitment.
- My taxes are used in part to finance Australia's defence. I have no objection to this in itself, but Australia's defence is at present entirely military, that is, it is based entirely on the readiness to kill, and so I must conscientiously object to financing such defence. That is, not only do I conscientiously object to my labour being applied to military purposes but I conscientiously object to my money (which I receive in return for my labour applied elsewhere) being applied to the same. Not only would I do alternative service in time of war but my conscience and my reason insist that my money must do alternative "service" at all times, rather than be used to prepare to kill.
- Alternatives to military defence are being researched around the world. They are variously known as Nonviolent Defence, Social Defence or Civilian-Based Defence. For example, a major work in the field is entitled Civilian-Based Defense: A Post-Military Weapons System, by Professor Gene Sharp of Harvard University, 1990. I became aware of these alternatives through my voluntary co-editorship of the magazine Nonviolence Today since 1985.
- Some time around 1989 I was made aware of my complicity in killing, through payment of taxes. In March 1990, when my first self-employed tax payment was due, I decided to act according to my conscientious beliefs. Inspired by the similar actions of Dr Robert Burrowes I determined that I would redirect 10% of my taxes (corresponding to the defence proportion of the budget) to The Peace & Development Foundation Inc., a private body set up for this purpose. I also decided to make it retrospective and determined that $3000.00 was approximately 10% of all the tax I had payed, and was about to pay, since I began paying taxes in 1976. On 31 March 1990, I sent a cheque for this amount to the Peace and Development Foundation Inc. On the same day, along with the cheque for the remaining 90% of my tax, I sent a letter to the Deputy Commissioner of Taxation, explaining what I was doing and why. I also requested a statement of account since 1976 to enable me to be more accurate.
- On 8 September 1990 I received a Plaint and Summons (No. 022990/90) in which the Deputy Commissioner of Taxation claimed an amount of $3231.78 plus costs. I filed an entry of appearance and defence dated 3 October 1990 and heard nothing further in regard to this plaint until I raised the matter in my letter of 6 December 1997, over 7 years later. This plaint was discontinued on 28 January 1998.
- In all subsequent years when tax was due I sent 10% of the assessment to the Peace and Development Foundation Inc. and the balance to the Australian Tax Office, accompanied each time by a similar explanatory letter to the Deputy Commissioner of Taxation. Except that on 31 October 1996 the Peace and Development Foundation Inc. was closed down and its funds transferred to a new organisation, the Sacred Earth Nonviolence Community, 48 Ingrow lane, Daylesford VIC 3460, and my subsequent redirected taxes were donated to this organisation. To summarise:
Date Amount Recipient
31 March 1990 $3000.00 Peace and Development Foundation Inc.
26 March 1991 $97.69 Peace and Development Foundation Inc.
10 May 1996 $880.63 Peace and Development Foundation Inc.
3 Feb 1997 $1224.14 Sacred Earth Nonviolence Community
for a total of $5202.46.
- Whenever I have received letters of demand from the Deputy Commissioner of Taxation I have replied, carefully and courteously explaining my reasons for not paying this money to the Commonwealth.
- To the best of my knowledge, the only creditors I have, apart from the Deputy Commissioner of Taxation, are the Brisbane Magistrates Court for an amount of $83.50 being a fine and costs for failing to vote in a federal election in 1993 and, jointly with my wife, Uni Credit Union Ltd. for loans secured by a mortgage over real estate, for which we have had, and will continue to have, no problem meeting payments when they fall due.
- I decline to pay the claimed amount to the Commonwealth, until such time as I can be assured that it will not be spent for military purposes, and then I would only pay the income tax component. I could never recognise the legitimacy of the penalty tax, interest or costs. If the money is obtained by the Commonwealth without my cooperation I will withhold all of my tax payments in future until I have recovered the full amount, since I consider that I have already discharged my duty to the community by paying the required amount to the Sacred Earth Nonviolence Community. If necessary I will ensure that I remain without significant realisable assets for the rest of my life. This is a decision I have made only after great deliberation.
- I consider my actions to be a legitimate exercise of the right to Freedom of Thought, Conscience and Religion as set out in article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights which forms schedule 2 of the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission Act 1986, even if Australian law does not recognise this.
- I have explored the political options to unambiguously remove any inconsistency in the law in regard to conscientious objection to the military use of taxes. While it is already official policy of the Australian Democrats and Australian Greens, I have so far received only polite dismissals from the government and the opposition. I have met with and discussed the matter with my federal member of parliament to no avail. In the meantime I must continue to act according to my conscience regardless of the personal consequences. This is not a decision I take lightly. I do this (a) to keep my conscience clear with regard to what is a grave moral and religious matter (b) to maintain my bona fides for possible future consideration as a conscientious objector for the purposes of the Defence Act 1903, and (c) in the noble tradition of civil disobedience, as practiced, for example, by proponents of women's suffrage and opponents of slavery and racism in the past, to draw attention to unjust laws and the need to change them.
SIGNED AND SWORN by the abovenamed deponent at Brisbane in the State of Queensland this day of September 1998, before me
Justice of the Peace