Plaint No. 29404/97




Brisbane in the State of Queensland



in the State of Queensland





[Section 145]

I, DAVID C KEENAN, of 116 Bowman Pde, Brisbane in the State of Queensland, 39 year old Computer Programmer, Electronics Designer and Renewable Energy Consultant, solemnly affirm that -

  1. 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.
  2. On 10 March 1987 the United Nations Commission on Human Rights recognised that conscientious objection to military service is 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. An equivalent article appears in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948.
  3. The Defence Act 1903 recognises the right of conscientious objectors such as myself to refuse to serve in a military capacity during times of war. This Act 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.
    This is the definition that I adopt in this document.
  4. I also have a conscientious belief that there is little or 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 unlawful killing, the law would recognise such actions as complicity.
  5. 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. 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.
  6. Alternatives to military defence are being researched around the world. They are variously known as Nonviolent Defence, Social Defence or Nonviolent Civilian-Based Defence. For example, a major work in the field is entitled Making Europe Unconquerable by Professor Gene Sharp of Harvard University. I became aware of these alternatives through helping to publish the magazine Nonviolence Today since 1985.
  7. The Commonwealth Budget tells us, each financial year, what proportion of total Commonwealth outlays were allocated to the Defence Function. This is currently 7.6%.
  8. The Commonwealth Budget also tells us, each financial year, how much of the Commonwealth's revenue came from income taxes and how much came from indirect taxes such as sales tax. This allows me to estimate (in the absence of a record of my actual indirect taxes) what proportion of my income tax would represent the Defence Function's proportion of my total tax payments. This is currently 10.2%.
  9. On 25 March 1987 Senator Norm Sanders presented a petition to the Senate with over 3000 signatures calling for the government to establish a Peace Tax Fund to receive the defence proportion of the taxes of bona fide conscientious objectors. He said, "It is no longer possible to distinguish combatant from non-combatant in modern warfare".
  10. On 15 June 1989, Senator Jo Vallentine presented a Peace Trust Fund Bill for this purpose to the senate. It was rejected.
  11. Prior to 1988 I was a PAYE taxpayer and had no opportunity to redirect any of my tax. In March 1990, when my first self-employed tax payment was due, I was able, for the first time, 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 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 remainder 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. This statement was promised in a reply dated 22 May 1990, but it has not yet arrived.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. This brings us to the present plaint (No. 29404/97) which on 10 December 1997 claimed an amount of $11143.71 plus costs. The $11143.71 was said to consist of $8790.59 in income tax and $2353.12 in additional tax for late payment and penalty interest. This is repeated in section 5 of the plaintiffs affidavit to support judgement summons, except that the income tax is there shown as $8790.79 and the same amount of additional tax is described as having been calculated to 12 December 1997 instead of 10 December 1997. I must dispute both of these breakdowns since the statement of account, which forms attachment "B" of the same affidavit, shows additional tax, consisting of penalties and interest to 10 December 1997, totalling $5414.31, which implies that only $5729.40 was income tax.
  16. As described in section 6 of the plaintiff's affidavit, the processing of my 97/98 tax return (nil tax assessment) has now reduced this alleged debt by $2356.70. This was due to provisional tax and PAYE tax which would otherwise have been refunded. Note that $11143.71 less $2356.70 is $8787.01 as shown on the statement of account ("B") and not $8952.51 as specified in attachment "A" section (e). It also differs from the lower figure of $8697 shown on attachment "C", the tax advice issued on 5 January 1998. Clearly it is not possible for all three of these amounts to be in accordance with the Income Tax Assessment Act 1936.
  17. If the figure of $8787.01 were correct then only $3372.70 of this would be income tax. In any case the figure would be close to this amount.
  18. However it should be clear from the above that even when a figure is arrived at which is in accordance with the Income Tax Assessment Act 1936, I will still decline to pay it to the Commonwealth, until such time as I can be assured that it will be spent on nonviolent forms of defence, and then I would only pay the income tax component. I could never recognise the legitimacy of the penalty tax and interest. This is decision I have made only after great deliberation.
  19. 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 though Australian law does not yet recognise this.
  20. I feel it is only a matter of time before this inconsistency in the law in regard to conscientious objectors is rectified. It is already part of the official policy of the Australian Democrats and is soon to be so for the Australian Greens and WA Greens. 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 (which I believe helps to maintain my physical and psychological health), and (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.
  21. I leave you with the following quote from Henry David Thoreau 1817-1862 in Civil Disobedience.
    "If a thousand men were not to pay their tax-bills this year, that would not be a violent and bloody measure, as it would be to pay them, and enable the State to commit violence and shed innocent blood. This is, in fact, the definition of a peaceable revolution if any such is possible. If the tax-gatherer or any public officer, asks me as one has done, "But what shall I do?" My answer is, "If you really wish to do anything, resign your office." When the subject has refused allegiance and the officer has resigned his office, then the revolution is accomplished. But even suppose blood should flow. Is there not a sort of blood shed when the conscience is wounded? Through this wound a man's real manhood and immortality flow out and he bleeds to an everlasting death. I see this blood flowing now."



SIGNED AND AFFIRMED by the abovenamed deponent at Brisbane in the State of Queensland this day of May 1998, before me


Justice of the Peace