The introduction of the poll tax and the residence tax was based on racial grounds and aggressively policed by government agents. It was intended to provide the resources for a Chinese Protectorate system that was designed by the Victorian government to address the needs of the Chinese community throughout the colony. The system was not implemented successfully and the rigid imposition of the arbitrary regulation galvanised the Castlemaine Chinese community into their own protest.
‘No tax without representation’ went the clarion call throughout the Victorian goldfields from 1851 onwards, as the European diggers agitated for better terms and conditions from an ineffective and increasingly vindictive colonial administration. Yet the same decade also saw the rise of another, now forgotten, popular movement that also had the laudable objective of obtaining ‘equality before the law.’ This was the colony-wide protest by the Victorian Chinese diggers against the imposition by the Victorian government of a revised version of the residence tax.