In a letter to Prosper Australia on 1 November 2001, former Whitlam government minister, Clyde Cameron, AO, displayed more than a little frustration with his beloved Australian Labor Party in providing the following details: –
Henry George, the great American social reformer wrote: “To collect the rental value of land is the most just and equal way of raising revenue. It is taking by the community, for the use of the community, that value which is the creation of the community. When all rent is taken for the needs of the community, then will the equality ordained by nature be attained. Then, but not till then, will labour get its full reward, and capital its natural return”.
Henry George’s solution remained an important plank of the Labor Party’s Platform until 1964 when it mysteriously disappeared. Cyril Wyndham that year, published what wrongly purported to be an accurate account of decisions taken by the Party’s 1963 Conference.
Why is it that the rich are getting richer, while the poor are growing in number and getting poorer? The answer lies in the fact that we have failed to support the only remedy that will cure a disease that is causing progress and poverty to be accepted as natural partners; i.e. by the collection of the full economic rental value of land
All that needs to be done is to take for the community that which properly belongs to the community; namely, the rental value of land, and leave sacredly to each individual, that which represents labour’s proper share of the wealth it produces.
Land rent is merely giving to the community the equivalent of the special advantage of being allowed to hold the exclusive possession of a piece of land which, because of its location and/or productivity gives the possessor an advantage others don’t enjoy.
The rental value of 200 hectares of good farming land in the best part of any State would have less than one percent of the rental value of only 200 square metres in the busiest Central Business District of our Capital Cities. Under the Georgist system of raising revenue the farmer would only pay site rental of his land, but no rent on the value of his home, his fencing, machinery and other improvements.
When we are able to persuade their politicians to collect the rental value of land now being misappropriated by private individuals, income and other taxes will be cut by billions of dollars.
Wage and salary earners now pay the same indirect tax on the petrol they buy and the same GST and indirect taxes on other items they purchase as is paid by the multi millionaires. Surely no fair-minded person would argue that that is a fair way of raising revenue!
When Labor stalwarts demand a return to the principle of collecting the rental value of land, which Labor Members of the Parliament did for more than sixty years, real wages will rise with one stroke of the taxation pen.
Every minute, of every day, the gross injustice of the present taxation system is staring us in the face. And yet, we allow the media barons to blind our vision of a fairer way of raising revenue.
Georgists and the founders of the Australian Labor Party envisaged a society in which there would be no idle poor, or unproductive rich living on the labour of others.
The unimproved value of land can’t be hidden in the Solomon Islands or some other tax haven to evade an obligation to pay its rental value to the Government as is now done with income tax.
It was the Fisher Labor Government which first collected the economic rent of land as a major source of revenue; and it was a Liberal Government in 1953, which abolished Labor’s great reform. That’s why Labor voters must plead with the Federal Parliamentary Labor Party to reintroduce that reform.
Labor politicians must be reminded that when the Liberal Government abolished the Federal Land tax in 1953, the Labor Caucus unanimously resolved to authorise Arthur Calwell to tell the Parliament of his Party’s total opposition to the Government’s decision. He declared: “We have always believed in the land tax, and when happy days come again we will restore the measure of imposing that tax on the Statute Book of this Country.” (Hansard 24 February 1953. page 62)
Labor pioneers recognised that land ownership, and land speculation, is a more lucrative way of becoming wealthy, than trying to eke out a living by ‘hard’ work.
At its 1957 Commonwealth Conference, Labor delegates unanimously agreed to introduce a graduated tax on the unimproved value of all land. (See Labors’ Official Report ofits 1957 Commonwealth Conference, page 59: this was Labor’s first step towards returning to its original commitment to collect the full rental value of all land.)
When the Government collects the economic rent of land instead of taxing labour, suburban land will become cheaper and the cost of buying, or building a house will be less.
It is because we allow the rental value of the nation’s land to go into private pockets, that the rest of us have to pay such high income tax and huge hidden taxes in the form of excessive excise duties and sales tax, etc.
Political Parties are so dependent upon Big Business for donations, that a lobbyist/consultant can often arrange for both the Government and the Opposition Parties to dance to the tune of the rich corporate sector.
The Australian public is becoming wary of the major Parties that accept large donations from the Corporate Sector instead of returning to the law of 1910 that collected the economic rental value of land
It should be made a criminal offence for a person or Party to seek, or accept, money or any other benefit, in return for a political favour.
Our political Parties appear not to have discovered the CAUSE, much less the CURE, for the vast and obscene wealth that stands side by side with ever-increasing abject poverty.
Traditional Labor and Liberal; voters are now demanding that their Party fight for first principles. They are fed up with politicians who place power above principle.
Just as 200 hectares of good farming land will pay less than one per cent of the rental value of 200 square metres of land in the Central Business District of our Capital Cities, the unimproved value of a huge farmland in the poorer areas of a State will have a much lower rental value than 200 hectares of rich farmland in the good rainfall areas of a State.
The correctness of collecting the annual rental value of land, rather than requiring our workforce to pay high direct and indirect taxation, is so obvious that it is one of the marvels of the present age that so few have come to recognise its truth:
Suburban householders will always be much better off paying the small amount of land rental to the Government, than being compelled to continue paying a large amount of income tax, GST and the carefully hidden indirect taxation.
There is a natural law that is extraneous to what passes for sound economics in our current state of affairs. But when economic truths on production, wages and rent are fully understood, there will be no place in our society for what we now tolerate in politics.
“My bread is mine! But also, your bread is yours”, However, that doesn’t prevent the rich from saying: “You can work for me and use my land, but you will have to give me a part of your bread; because your bread is mine!”
Under the Georgist system of raising revenue, all wage earners will discover that the rental value of the block of land on which their house stands, will give twofold relief from their current plight. Firstly, because the total amount they will pay in rent will be ever so much less than they now pay in taxation; and secondly, the cost of living will be less.
Henry George put the position with compelling logic when he wrote: “While in the nature of things any change from wrong-doing to right-doing must entail loss upon those who profit from wrong-doing, and thus can no more be prevented than can parallel lines be made to meet; yet it must also be remembered that in the nature of things the loss is merely relative to the gain absolute.” (A Perplexed Philosopher).