This clip starts approximately 20 minutes into the documentary.
We are shown illustrations of a landscape scene of a port, men working in a minefields and a congregation of squatters. This is intermittently cut into a reenactment of an actor playing Governor Hotham accompany a narration. We hear sound effects of mean talking and chamber music under the narration. There is a portrait of La Trobe against a Union Jack, we then see illustration of men debating in parliament and diggers and policemen in mining camps. There is a graphic of a newspaper clipping that reads, ‘Abolition License Tax, Great Open Air Meeting, To the Public of Bendigo, Meeting, On Saturday next, August 26.
Narrator Most government revenue was raised through indirect taxes, primarily import duties. There were no taxes on income. The gold licence was a new kind of tax, a direct tax on people’s labour – and they didn’t like it. On his trip to the Bendigo gold fields, Hotham addressed a crowd of 8,000 diggers, calling for it to be abolished.
Actor playing Governor Hotham You ask me to do a very serious thing – to do away with a large portion of public revenue. We must all pay something, and I will endeavour to make the taxes as light as possible. I will give the subject every consideration. But, having made up my mind as to what is right. I am just the boy to stick to it.
Narrator The previous governor, Charles La Trobe, had tried to introduce an export duty on gold. Only successful miners would have paid the tax. Seeing it as the thin edge of the wedge, the squatters and merchants killed it off. With protest growing, La Trobe halved the licence fee. The cost became £2 for three months – about the price for a pair of digger’s boots.
Interview with Geoffrey Blainey.
Geoffrey Blainey The world had very little experience of running a large-scale free goldfield. California was the first on any scale in the whole world, and that was only found in 1848. Then came the Australian goldfields in 1851. It was still a very new and very difficult administrative task. They had no precedence to learn from.
Narrator This was the system Hotham inherited. He knew it needed fixing, but that would take time, and time was running out. Increasing numbers of diggers were avoiding the licence, exacerbating colony’s financial problems. And for Hotham, an even bigger issue was at stake.
Renactment of Govern Hotham played by an actor delivering speech behind an official office desk.
Actor playing Governor Hotham So long as a law, however obnoxious and unpopular it may be, remains in force, obedience must be rendered or government is at an end.
Narrator After Hotham’s tour of the goldfields, expectations were raised that he would abolish the licence. He did the opposite, ordering licence checks up from once a month to twice a week.