Anti-Gold License Association

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Bendigo Goldfields Petition Cover, August 1853. State Library of Victoria (MS 12440) and Condemned them to hard labor on the Public Roads of the Colony - A proceeding Your Petitioners maintain to be contrary to the spirit of the British Law which does not recognise the principle of the Subject being a Criminal because he is indebted to the State
That the impost of Thirty Shillings a Month is unjust because the successful and unsuccessful Digger are assessed in the same ratio
For these reasons and others which could be enumerated Your Petitioners pray Your Excellency to Grant the following Petition
* First. To direct that the Licence Fee be reduced to Ten Shillings a Month
* Secondly To direct that Monthly or Quarterly Licenses be issued at the option of the Applicants
* Thirdly To direct that new arrivals or invalids be allowed on registering their names at the Commissioners Office fifteen clear days residence on the Gold Fields before the License be enforced
* Fourthly To afford greater facility to Diggers and others resident on the Gold Fields who wish to engage in Agricultural Pursuits for investing their earnings in small allotments of land
* Fifthly To direct that the Penalty of Five Pounds for non-possession of License be reduced to One Pound
* Sixthly To direct that (as the Diggers and other residents on the Gold Fields of the Colony have uniformly developed a love of law and order) the sending of an Armed Force to enforce the License Tax be discontinued.
Your Petitioners would respectfully submit to Your Excellency's consideration in favour of the reduction of the License Fee that many Diggers and other residents on the Gold-fields who are debarred from taking a License under the present System would if the Tax were reduced to Ten Shillings a Month cheerfully comply with the Law so that the License Fund instead of being diminished would be increased
Your Petitioners would also remind your Excellency that a Petition is the only mode by which they can submit their wants to your Excellency's consideration as although they contribute more to the Exchequer that half the Revenue of the Colony they are the largest class of Her Majesty's Subjects in the Colony unrepresented
And your Petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray etc.
Red Ribbon Movement Monument in Rosalind Park, Bendigo [detail], 2013. Ballarat Heritage Services Picture Collection

The Anti-Gold License Association was formed in June 1853.


Bendigo, December 8, 1853.
THE grand initiation of the second agitation against the license tax, and for enfranchising the gold diggers, took place on Saturday. The locale was in the rear of the Digger's Advocate Office, Golden Square, on some rising ground, Dr. Owens, late of the Ovens, was in the chair. The speakers were, Drs. M'Donald and Wall, Mr. William Edmonds, storekeeper, Mr. Donovan, storekeeper, and one or two new chums. The mantle of the late agitators does not seem to have settled on the new aspirants. There was wanting that vigour of speech, and happy off-hand manner which characterised the defunct agitators' speeches, and which told with so much effect on the believing digger. There might too be an absence, to a great ex-tent, of the cause of complaint which existed some few months back. Certainly the new Gold Fields Bill falls very far short of what was ex- pected from the Report of the Select Committee. The £50 annual license for store-keepers has given great offence to thousands of the small dealers on the various diggings; some of the more influential of this class, of course, feel pleased at this clause, because they think it will be the means of shutting up a large pro-portion of the retailers of merchandise, and thus afford the former a monopoly. This part of the enactment is certainly highly objectionable, and will press very unequally on those who are thus taxed; but then the digger has to pay, and it is this that the new agitators are harping on. The premium for taking out yearly licenses, and giving the franchise to those who do so, is another bungling piece of business. The Government first say to the digger, "you have great privileges in being permitted to live in this fine country, and you must pay for them; if you stay only one month you shall pay 20s., but if you will be good enough to stay twelve months, you shall only pay £8 per annum." Here is an affirmative and a negative in the same breath. The Act is full of pains and penalties, which, coupled with the manner in which it was smuggled through the Council, affords ample room for the portion of antagonism taken by the diggings' orators.
At the meeting on Saturday there were about 3000 persons. The resolutions were con-demnatory of the Bill (or rather "Act now.,)
It was also determined that there should be an election of representatives for the Bendigo, with liberty for the other gold fields to join, who are to sit in congress on the wants of the digging community. There are to be seven returned for Bendigo, and the election is by ballot on Saturday week next. The parties re-turned are to be the bona fide representatives for twelve months from the date of their election.
DIVISION IN THE CAMP.—There are rumours of great dissatisfaction existing in the minds of several of the Government officers at Bendigo, on the subject of the new Act. Mr. Panton, the resident commissioner, with two or three others, it is said, have resigned. It is supposed that the clause in the Act providing that a commis-sioner should go round with the police to search for unlicensed diggers and occupiers of crown lands, is the chief cause of the commotion.[1]

Also See

Bendigo Goldfields Petition

Dr John Owens

  1. Sydney Morning Herald, 17 December 1853.