The Picket Line — 18 March 2012

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The Bulletin. TUESDAY, APRIL 12, 1927.

12 April 1927, Townsville Daily Bulletin (Qld. : 1885 - 1954), page 6

…In 1926, the “loan mongering, money-wasting,” Queensland government, as one editorial put it , which had gone into debt to the mother country, began “inflicting taxation to meet the interest on all these devouring borrowings.”…

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LOWER BURDEKIN MOTES. AYR, April 24.

2 May 1927, Townsville Daily Bulletin (Qld. : 1885 - 1954), page 9

…Among the new taxes was one snuck in to the Water Act of 1926. At the time, nobody seemed to notice that there was a tax involved —  “there was no mention of a tax; nor was there anything to foreshadow such a tax”  — but the Act empowered a commissioner to charge a fee to farmers who, under the terms of the act, were forced to register any wells or water pumps they used. When the commissioner announced the fee schedule, it became clear that this was not just going to be a nominal paperwork-processing cost, but a revenue-raising tax on irrigation.…

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THE WATER ACT. PROTESTS FROM PRODUCERS.

27 April 1927, Morning Bulletin (Rockhampton, Qld. : 1878 - 1954), page 7

…It is because farmers are relatively unorganized that the government tries to shift the burden of taxes to them. “It appears as though it were an established fact known to those high up that the farmer is not organised, that he cannot show a solid front, and must of necessity take anything hurled at him. Anything at all, no matter how unjust, so long as the coffers in Brisbane are kept full.” If we let this tax go by, it will just grow larger and more taxes will follow.…

…Byfield LPA passed a motion “refusing to register wells.” The Gums LPA “unanimously proposed that no information should be given regarding water in the district, which had been conserved by the settlers at their own expense, and that no licenses should be applied for.” Members of the Livingstone Shire council went on record supporting tax resistance: “I’ll fill my well in and remove my machinery before I’ll pay the tax,” said one. “I’m not going to register or take any action, and they can put me in gaol if they like,” said another. “If they try to put us all in gaol it will have to be a pretty…

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"EXTREME DEPRAVITY." WATER TAX DENOUNCED. ROCKHAMPTON. April 20.

21 April 1927, The Brisbane Courier (Qld. : 1864 - 1933), page 13

…It is unjust to compel people “to pay a tax on rain that falls from the clouds on their land… this tax surpasses anything known in the history of the world for extreme depravity” It is counterproductive to tax people on the improvements they make to their property and to their businesses, as these things increase the prosperity of the country and the general tax base. “If a man improved his holding so as to make it produce more he was doing good for the country, and should be encouraged, rather than harassed. It was straight-out robbery to tax those improvements.” (Some also made the Georgist argument that the only valid tax is one on the unimproved value of land.) This is even worse for farmers who lease their land from the government, as…

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TAX ON PROGRESS WATER ACT CRITICISED. MINISTER EXPLAINS MEASURE.

7 October 1927, The Brisbane Courier (Qld. : 1864 - 1933), page 9

…It is counterproductive to tax people on the improvements they make to their property and to their businesses, as these things increase the prosperity of the country and the general tax base. “If a man improved his holding so as to make it produce more he was doing good for the country, and should be encouraged, rather than harassed. It was straight-out robbery to tax those improvements.” (Some also made the Georgist argument that the only valid tax is one on the unimproved value of land.)…

…It wasn’t until October that the legislature started debating a formal repeal of “the clauses which were vexatious to a section of the community and which unduly interfered with the rights of the individual” , and it was a few years before the Act actually underwent major revisions (and I didn’t try to decipher the legislatese to figure out what any of it meant).…

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"HUNTING US OFF THE LAND." ROCKHAMPTON, March 18.

25 March 1927, Townsville Daily Bulletin (Qld. : 1885 - 1954), page 9

That this association enters an emphatic protest against the action of the Government in making these undue levies against the primary producers of Queensland, who have invested their capital in improving properties for the sole purpose of sustaining livelihood either by means of watering stock or for irrigation purposes, by this exesssive tax on water, which is certainly a tax on the progressive producer, and on unfortunate landholders, who have not running water on their properties. That the Council of Agriculture should be written to asking it to circularise Local Producers’ Associations in the State, requesting them to protest as a body, and advise the farmers to refuse to pay the tax; that a copy also should be sent to the Pastoralists’ Association, asking for any suggestions on the matter.

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THE WATER TAX. Indignation Meeting At Ayr. AYR, April 10.

11 April 1927, Townsville Daily Bulletin (Qld. : 1885 - 1954), page 6

…In Ayr, in “the biggest meeting of farmers ever held in the Burdekin district” at which “Ninety per cent of the farmers of the district were present,” according to a news account, the group decided that if the Government did not respond satisfactorily to their protest, “the farmers should refuse to take out a [water] license… All present pledged themselves to refuse to take out a license.”…

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UPPER ULAM.

21 April 1927, The Capricornian (Rockhampton, Qld. : 1875 - 1929), page 46

…A few days later, the Upper Ulam LPA met, and unanimously declared “that this Association stand firm in a refusal to register wells, and hereby solicit the earnest support and cooperation of all other LPAs and any other persons having wells on their properties.” The Richmond branch of the Graziers Association of Central and Northern Queensland then carried a motion “that all payment of water taxes be suspended” until the graziers as a whole could be consulted. 200 farmers from the Kalamia and Pioneer Mill suppliers, also in Ayr, unanimously declared that “failing to get relief from the Government, we refuse to take out a license.” The Mount Scoria LPA met, also in record numbers, and instructed its secretary to appeal to all other LPA s “to fall in line with those LPA s who have already decided to oppose the provisions of the…

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RICHMOND NOTES. RICHMOND, April 16th

26 April 1927, Townsville Daily Bulletin (Qld. : 1885 - 1954), page 10

…The Richmond branch of the Graziers Association of Central and Northern Queensland then carried a motion “that all payment of water taxes be suspended” until the graziers as a whole could be consulted.…

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THE WATER TAX. AYR FARMERS' PROTEST. AYR, April 19.

20 April 1927, The Brisbane Courier (Qld. : 1864 - 1933), page 19

…200 farmers from the Kalamia and Pioneer Mill suppliers, also in Ayr, unanimously declared that “failing to get relief from the Government, we refuse to take out a license.” The Mount Scoria LPA met, also in record numbers, and instructed its secretary to appeal to all other LPA s “to fall in line with those LPA s who have already decided to oppose the provisions of the Water Act by refusing to register or pay any tax.” In Rockhampton, the LPA “unanimously decided that all members pledge themselves to offer passive resistance to the operation of the Act by refusing to make the required applications or to furnish any returns, or to make any payments as demanded by the Act. Further, it was decided to invite all other LPA…

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THANGOOL

12 May 1927, The Capricornian (Rockhampton, Qld. : 1875 - 1929), page 58

…The Mount Scoria LPA met, also in record numbers, and instructed its secretary to appeal to all other LPA s “to fall in line with those LPAs who have already decided to oppose the provisions of the Water Act by refusing to register or pay any tax.” In Rockhampton, the LPA “unanimously decided that all members pledge themselves to offer passive resistance to the operation of the Act by refusing to make the required applications or to furnish any returns, or to make any payments as demanded by the Act. Further, it was decided to invite all other LPA s and kindred bodies to adopt a similar attitude.” Byfield LPA passed a motion “refusing to register wells.” The Gums LPA “unanimously proposed that no information should be given regarding water in the district, which had been conserved by the settlers at their own expense, and that no…

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PASSIVE RESISTANCE. TO WATER TAX. FLOUTING THE GOVERNMENT.

22 April 1927, Morning Bulletin (Rockhampton, Qld. : 1878 - 1954), page 8

…In Rockhampton, the LPA “unanimously decided that all members pledge themselves to offer passive resistance to the operation of the Act by refusing to make the required applications or to furnish any returns, or to make any payments as demanded by the Act. Further, it was decided to invite all other LPAs and kindred bodies to adopt a similar attitude.” Byfield LPA passed a motion “refusing to register wells.” The Gums LPA “unanimously proposed that no information should be given regarding water in the district, which had been conserved by the settlers at their own expense, and that no licenses should be applied for.” Members of the Livingstone Shire council went on record supporting tax resistance: “I’ll fill my well in and remove my machinery before I’ll pay the tax,” said one. “I’m not going to register or take any action, and they can put me in gaol if they like,” said another. “If they try to put us all…

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"GO TO GAOL" CR. SMITH'S SLOGAN. FOR NEW WATER TAX.

4 May 1927, Morning Bulletin (Rockhampton, Qld. : 1878 - 1954), page 5

…Members of the Livingstone Shire council went on record supporting tax resistance: “I’ll fill my well in and remove my machinery before I’ll pay the tax,” said one. “I’m not going to register or take any action, and they can put me in gaol if they like,” said another. “If they try to put us all in gaol it will have to be a pretty big one to hold us. I think all the settlers should hold out.”…

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SUGAR INDUSTRY. The Water Tax.

20 April 1927, Townsville Daily Bulletin (Qld. : 1885 - 1954), page 7

…in the district, which had been conserved by the settlers at their own expense, and that no licenses should be applied for.” Members of the Livingstone Shire council went on record supporting tax resistance: “I’ll fill my well in and remove my machinery before I’ll pay the tax,” said one. “I’m not going to register or take any action, and they can put me in gaol if they like,” said another. “If they try to put us all in gaol it will have to be a pretty big one to hold us. I think all the settlers should hold out.” One editorialist congratulated the farmers thusly: One must congratulate these Burdekin growers for their determination to refuse to pay the tax should the Irrigation Commissioner persist in his charges. Whilst the writer is always opposed to direct action it must be remembered that the circumstances of the present case are execptional, and the growers at the very limit of their patience and tolerance, are driven to it. That brings us up to early May. On May 7 th , the government decided to withdraw the water tax. The tax resistance campaign had succeeded after only a month. The Townsville Daily Bulletin editorialized: Never since that historical…

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LOWER BURDEKIN NOTES. MR. COLLIN8. M.L.A,, AD. DRESSES THE ELECTORS. AYR, May7.

17 May 1927, Cairns Post (Qld. : 1909 - 1954), page 10

…early May. On May 7th, the government decided to withdraw the water tax. The tax resistance campaign had succeeded after only a month.…

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The Bulletin THURSDAY, MAY 12. 1927.

12 May 1927, Townsville Daily Bulletin (Qld. : 1885 - 1954), page 6

…should hold out.” One editorialist congratulated the farmers thusly: One must congratulate these Burdekin growers for their determination to refuse to pay the tax should the Irrigation Commissioner persist in his charges. Whilst the writer is always opposed to direct action it must be remembered that the circumstances of the present case are execptional, and the growers at the very limit of their patience and tolerance, are driven to it. That brings us up to early May. On May 7 th , the government decided to withdraw the water tax. The tax resistance campaign had succeeded after only a month. The Townsville Daily Bulletin editorialized: Never since that historical occasion when the cargo of tea was tossed overboard in Boston Harbor, has there been a more successful rebellion against an unpopular government impost, than that which has fairly bluffed the McCormack Government, into abolishing the obnoxious Water Tax. And it was such a surprise too; since David slew Goliath, and Oliver Twist knocked out Noah Claypole, never have we seen an obnoxious giant, and a political giant at that, so completely overthrown. The clamor of those to be levied on, commencing double forte, multiplied, as time went on, into one unappeasable roar of refusal, which…

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PRODUCERS IN CONFERENCE. THE GAYNDAH MEETING. HOSPITAL AND WATER TAXES CONDEMNED.

12 July 1927, Morning Bulletin (Rockhampton, Qld. : 1878 - 1954), page 13

…Indeed, not long after, the Gayndah LPA , emboldened by the victory, asked their Shire Council “to show the amount of hospital rate separately on the rate notices, the idea being that the time may arrive when they would refuse to pay, and they would require to know the amount they would deduct from their rates.” A motion to begin such resistance immediately was brought up, and failed, but another motion passed, saying:…

…Although the government rescinded the registration fees, the Water Act was still on the books, and some LPA s continued to counsel their members not to register their wells and pumps. “A lot of farmers were under the impression that because of registration fee had been withdrawn, everything in the garden was lovely. But the regulations were still there, and farmers who were under that impression would receive a rude awakening. Only formal registration had to be made, but they would find that if they furnished the particulars asked for they would give the Government an opportunity to later on impose the charges.” It wasn’t until October that the legislature started debating a formal repeal of “the clauses which were vexatious to a section of the community and which unduly interfered with the rights of the individual” , and it was a few years before the Act actually underwent major revisions (and I didn’t try to decipher the legislatese to figure out what any of it meant). The preexisting organizational and communications infrastructure of the Queensland farmers was key to rapidly organizing a tax strike and to maintaining solidarity. And that, in turn, was key to their quick victory.…