From: Bevis, Arch (MP) [Address removed] 
To: 'Mark Young' [Address removed] 
Date: Tuesday, June 23, 1998 10:20 PM
Subject: RE: Conscientious Tax Resister for Peace
Dear [David],
You certainly present a dilemma - to the Tax office, the
Parliament and me as your local member. I don't doubt your deep
conviction and sincerity. I'm not sure however, how a community based on
collective decisions and a common government realistically accommodates
your proposal.

I have had people in the past complain that their taxes go to things
they don't support, and/or use, and/or need. Defence is but one of the
areas of government activity that gets targeted. For some it is spending
on Aboriginees, environmental programs, industry support, or even
schools for those without children.

Even if a system of conscientious objection could be established, the
question as to which organisations the equivalent amount of money should
go to would not be straight forward.

Frankly, I don't know what to do in response to your situation. You say
that your actions are not within the law. Also that you have no
intention of changing your views or practices concerning this matter.
For all that, it is clear to me that prisons are not built for people
like you.

You may be interested to know that the Defence Budget funds (albeit a
small amount) for independent work on strategic policy development which
is largely about conflict prevention. In addition, I know that the vast
majority of professional military people are keen students of diplomacy
and non violent conflict resolution. They have no greater desire to be
in harms way than any other normal human being. The difference is that
when all else fails, they are trained and willing to stand between harm
and innocent people.

Importantly, Australian troops have played a leading role in peace and
relief work. Deployments such as
* Cambodia - which restored peace after generations of bloodshed
* Rhawanda- where our hospital teams saved lives
* Somalia - where we brought civil order to war torn towns. Sadly,
whilst the Australian participation was first class, other nations had
great difficulty recognising the peace role rather than a combat role
* Bougainville - where we have helped restore peace and are
rebuilding civil infrastructure
* and at home where military engineers train by building much
needed facilities in remote Australia, particularly for Aboriginal
are all positive programs that could not have occured without the

The story is not all bad. There are plenty of things Defence does which
I think you would find tolerable - even acceptable.

I'm not sure how I can assist. However I would be happy to talk to you
if you wish.

Arch Bevis
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Mark Young [SMTP: [Address removed]]
> Sent: Thursday, June 04, 1998 2:37 PM
> To: Brendan Greenhill; David Busch; Senator Andrew Bartlett; Senator
> John Woodley; Arch Bevis (MP); Noel Preston; AWD; Trevor Jordan;
> Coralie Kingston; Tony at home; CJPC; Paul Osborne; Jason John; JAM
> (Vic Synod); Bernie Clark; Don Whebell; Bob Warrick; Rev Christine
> Digby; John Dunn; Dave Andrews; Fiona Sharwood
> Subject: Conscientious Tax Resister for Peace
> An Open Letter from Dave Keenan, Conscientious Tax Resister for Peace
> David C. Keenan 3-Jun-98
> 116 Bowman Parade
> Bardon QLD 4065
> Phone: (07) 3366 2660
> Email: Dave Keenan [Address removed]
> Web: [URL updated]
> To Whom it May Concern
> You may have thought that the days of conscientious objectors going to
> prison for their beliefs were a thing of the past. After all this is a
> civilised democracy that prides itself on its tolerance of many
> different
> cultures and beliefs. Unfortunately, I am writing to tell you that
> this is
> not so. Or perhaps you are already aware of the injustice of taxation
> law
> when it comes to conscientious objection. In any case, I am asking for
> your
> urgent help.
> I am a conscientious objector, and I may well find myself both
> bankrupt and
> in prison in just a few weeks time. I have a wife and two children; a
> son
> aged four and a daughter of only seven months. It is very difficult to
> explain to my son, and of course impossible to explain to my daughter,
> why
> their Government wants to take me away from them and put me in prison.
> Like many other conscientious objectors, I realised many years ago
> that
> simply refusing military service was not enough, that even during
> peace
> time my taxes were helping to pay for weapons and military training,
> including the disgraceful training of Indonesian soldiers, who we
> recently
> saw, yet again, killing their own unarmed citizens. The law
> recognises, in
> the case of murder, that paying someone to do your killing for you is
> as
> serious a crime as doing it yourself.
> Many conscientious objectors now understand this, but most are PAYE
> taxpayers and have little chance to do anything about their beliefs.
> In
> 1990, after becoming self-employed for the first time, I withheld 10%
> of my
> tax from the tax office and instead paid it to an organisation
> supporting
> research into nonviolent defence (the Peace and Development Foundation
> Inc.). I told the tax office exactly what I was doing and why, and I
> have
> done this for the past 8 years, whenever tax was payable.
> After 8 years, things are suddenly moving rapidly. A week ago,
> Judgement
> was entered against me in the Brisbane Magistrates Court for $8952.51.
> Yesterday I received a letter from the tax office saying "If full
> payment
> [of what is now $9488.11] or a reasonable offer of payment by
> installments
> is not received by Friday 12 Jun 98, a Bankruptcy Notice will issue".
> Of
> course I will not pay. And whether or not I am declared bankrupt, I
> will at
> some stage be ordered by the court to give a statement of my assets.
> Of
> course I will not give any information that would allow the money to
> be
> taken. That's what it means to have a conscientious belief, and this
> is
> when I will probably find myself in jail (ostensibly for contempt of
> court).
> If I did not continue to act according to my beliefs then, as defined
> in
> the Defence Act my beliefs could no longer be considered
> "conscientious",
> and I would no longer be eligible to be considered even as a
> conscientious
> objector to military service in time of war.
> I can assure you that I have no avenue within the law, as it stands,
> for
> doing what I am doing. But all it would take is a small amendment to
> the
> Tax Act, similar in spirit to the (1987 ?) amendments to the Defence
> Act,
> that would allow bona fide conscientious objectors to pay the defence
> proportion of their tax into a fund to be used to support nonviolent,
> non-military forms of defence (research or implementation).
> I have heard that some politicians in the past have expressed the fear
> that
> this would "open the floodgates to discretionary taxes of all kinds".
> But
> this is complete nonsense. The idea that people would present
> themselves in
> droves before a tribunal to establish that they had a bona fide
> conscientious objection to paying taxes for health or welfare is
> simply
> laughable. Even conscientious objectors to military service are
> probably
> less than 0.1% of the population.
> However I'm sure that the majority of Australians believe in the right
> to
> freedom of thought, conscience and religion which appears in our Human
> Rights and Equal Opportunities Act. I just hope it doesn't take a
> "Free
> Dave Keenan" campaign to convince their representatives likewise. I
> also
> direct you to section 116 of our constitution.
> Even the people in the tax office say they respect my beliefs and
> would
> rather not have to do this to me, but, short of resigning, they would
> be
> breaking the law if they did not.
> But in the short term, (very short) what I really need is a
> moratorium, and
> anything you can do to help obtain one for me would be greatly
> appreciated.
> In fact I'm begging you to help me, if not for my sake, for the sake
> of my
> children.
> I would be happy to supply more information and to talk to you by
> phone or
> in-person (depending on travel expenses). I also check my email daily
> and
> you are welcome to browse my web pages.
> Yours sincerely,
> David C. Keenan
> -- Dave Keenan
> [URL updated]