Land Value Taxation in Australia and Its Potential For Reforming Our Chaotic Tax System

Karl FitzgeraldHistory5 Comments

The Walsh Memorial Bequest Address delivered at Macquarie University School of Economics 27 May 1988 by MD Herps, FAIV, DipLaw (BAB), FSLE

[Doug Herps was Deputy Valuer-General, New South Wales, and consultant to the Commonwealth Grants Commission in connection
with Australia’s land values]

Introduction

From the beginning of white settlement in Australia our forbears were confronted by the many problems of settling themselves into what was imagined to be an empty and hostile land. After the discovery of gold in the 1850s, however, the population rose dramatically and municipal problems multiplied. But the all important access to land was largely denied to many settlers because so much that was favourably situated or well watered and fertile had become locked up by the squatters, many of whom had gained possession, often illegally, of tracts as large as European principalities. What to do about this urgent social problem became the most pressing need of the second half of the nineteenth century.

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LAND PRICE AS A CAUSE OF POVERTY

Winston Churchill’s Speech in the House of Commons, 4 May 1909, in response to Mr AJ Balfour, Leader of the Opposition

The immemorial custom of nearly every modern State, the mature conclusions of many of the greatest thinkers, have placed the tenure, transfer, and obligations of land in a wholly different category from other classes of property. The mere obvious physical distinction between land, which is a vital necessity of every human being and which at the same time is strictly limited in extent, and other property is in itself sufficient to justify a clear differentiation in its treatment, and in the view taken by the State of the conditions which should govern the tenure of land from that which should regulate traffic in other forms of property.