Victory for war tax resister

Issue 

By Tracy Sorensen

Melbourne war tax resister Robert Burrowes has had an unusual win in his long campaign against military spending. The Federal Court found him guilty of contempt of court on April 22 - but the judge assessed no penalty against him.

For eight years, Burrowes has refused to pay 10% of his taxes, saying that he has a moral obligation to resist financing methods of killing people. Since 1983, Burrowes has redirected the relevant portion of his income to grassroots environmental and Aboriginal groups.

Burrowes appeared in court in response to an application filed by the Official Trustee in Bankruptcy for his refusal to comply with provisions of the Bankruptcy Act. He had been declared bankrupt in November 1991 for his refusal to pay war taxes, previous court costs and interest totalling $7729.55 for the years 1983 to 1988.

"This is an unusual outcome", Burrowes told Green Left. "Contempt of court cases are usually treated with more vigour. The judge said I was clearly motivated by moral conviction and had put up an eloquent defence."

Burrowes spent a month in Iraq as a member of the Gulf Peace Team in January 1991. "For two weeks, including four nights in Baghdad during the bombing, I witnessed the incredible human suffering and ecological damage wrought by weapons paid for with military taxes. It is clear to me that you cannot resolve conflict by killing people."

The war tax resisters movement involves tens of thousands of people worldwide. Burrowes told Green Left that the movement here encourages people to consider other ways of helping to create a non-violent world. These include supporting feminism, "paying the rent" for use of Aboriginal land by financial contributions to grassroots Aboriginal organisations, and refusing to vote in elections. For more information contact Robert Burrowes on (03) 387 3398.