Prosper Australia is a self funded NGO (non government organisation), inspired by the economic justice that can be achieved by distributing the wealth produced from land amongst the entire community.
This concept was developed during the 18th Century era of Classical Economics. The theory was clarified when a self-educated man called Henry George wrote “Progress and Poverty”. The success of this book and the strength of his oratory skills led to a world-wide movement of similar organisations.
This perspective gives one the ability to talk to businessmen about lower taxes and greater efficiencies (through the removal of deadweight taxes) and to those environmentally minded through urban density, self funding public infrastructure and resource conservation. We have always been critical of those who blame the world’s ills on malthusianism (over population). We have never had anything to do with Pauline Hanson or the One Nation party, and take a strong stance against their policies.
Prosper Australia is primarily a voluntary organisation that has sister organisations throughout Australia and the rest of the world.
In Victoria we have a number of related groups including:
- Earthsharing Australia – our greener supporters work under this banner
- Land Values Research Group – heading our statistical arm
In Tasmania we have:
- Prosper Australia – Tasmania – Leo Foley’s innovative group
Around Australasia we have associated groups in the Association for Good Government (NSW), the Georgist Education Association (W.A), Site Revenue Society (QLD) & Resource Rentals for Revenue Association (NZ). More details can be seen via the HGFA or Email
Prosper Australia grew out of the ferment of social reform at the beginning of the twentieth century. Although there was plenty of opposition to our way of thinking, the future looked reasonably positive. During the first twenty years or so of the last century our journal PROGRESS reached a circulation of 20,000. Both the Liberal and Labour Party had Land Value Taxation on their platforms. A good beginning had been made. We were part of the general move towards a more equitable society and general social awareness.
During the dislocation of the war years, support waned. However people were still enthused. A band of businessmen clubbed together and bought a property so that the organization would have permanent rooms and security for the future. Another very generous benefactor donated money and began the Henry George Foundation (Australia). Both these moves put our movement in a solid financial position.
At the time it was thought beneficial to bring in the reform at the local level. i.e. to have council rates levied on the value of the location and not on the buildings. After success was achieved at the local level we could then move onto the State and Federal.
In Victoria, to make the change from net annual value to site value rating, a ratepayer poll was required in which 40% of ratepayers demanded that council conduct a poll to decide on the rating system preferred by the majority. A lot of pain staking data had to be compiled to show that site value rating was just and equitable and that most people would benefit from a change over. All this hard work lead to a gradual shift and councils on the demand of their ratepayers changed to site value rating. This was clearly democracy at work.
However in the 1970’s a change to the law in Victoria meant that to view the value of an allotment (a land title) incurred a charge of $1. Before then it had been free. This was a deathblow to anyone who wanted to compile statistics in the local government area and was a serious set back to our organisation. Our statistics had shown conclusively that ordinary people and hardworking businesses were better off with site value rating. The final blow to our local government work was the amalgamation of councils which encouraged a return to net annual value (or CIV), in the Kennett era. This meant ratepayers who had used their democratic right to have their rates levied on the value of the site were now forced to have them levied on their improvements as well. Kennett also increased the price of viewing land titles to $20 per title.
Canberra and Leasehold
This system of revenue raising worked very well in Canberra. When it was decided to build the capital city in Canberra, the planners instinctively knew that when the chosen site became public it would bring about a crippling land grab. A leasehold system was devised to stop this. Canberra was built without land speculation and prohibitive high land prices. Walter Burley Griffin, a member of our organisation in the early years, helped draw up the leasehold system. The Canberra leasehold system stood the test of time until the 1970’s when the Gorton Government all but abolished it. At the time Prosper campaigned for a revamp of the leasehold system, as we believed the real problem was not the leasehold system but that intervals between valuations were too spasmodic.
Never say Die
The loss of the leasehold system in Canberra and the local government issue were blows to Georgists. All our hard work had been systematically dismantled. Our foray into local government had not led to a permanent structure. We did not have the success which we had at first envisaged. Today, the popularity of tax havens combined with the compliance costs heaped on modern business mean that in the near future our views will return to their rightful place. Our challenge is to continue preparing the undeniable evidence.
About Us Today
We are part of a worldwide network working towards economic justice. We believe that a just revenue system lies at the heart of many of our social issues. We are concerned about poverty, homelessness, joblessness, the fragmentation of our communities and the destruction of our environment. We know that most people share our concerns. Prosper Australia differs in its approach to addressing these issues from many other groups. We not only ask “How is Government spending to be allocated?”, we also ask, “What is the most just way that Governments can obtain their revenue?” We believe there is not enough attention paid to the second question because of a general lack of awareness. People can spend their lives driving around looking for the cheapest petrol, but spend scant time analysing why they pay so much tax.
We are a grassroots, not for profit and educational organization. We are truly independent and not affiliated with any political group. Our members and supporters come from all walks of life. Any one who agrees with our outlook is invited to become a member. We have always maintained a steady support from people prominent in academic and business circles but also from the many people who simply see the sense of obtaining revenue this way. We hold regular meetings and forums to strategise towards a better understanding of these concepts. These meetings are advertised on our web site and also in our 109 year old journal Progress Magazine
How Do We Keep it All Running?
Each year at the AGM, the members elect the Executive for the following year. Those elected then are responsible for the activities undertaken by Prosper. This executive meets monthly. Most work is done on a volunteer basis, although we do pay one person to maintain the office, to answer questions and to oversee the place for members. A Projects Coordinator, Research Officer and Communications Manager are also paid to further our aims.
We are proud of our rooms in the heart of the city of Melbourne. Here we have our meeting rooms, our research library and our bookstore. Members are welcome to come in and use the facilities, renew acquaintances and chat to people making their first inquiries.
We have a panel of speakers keen to address your organisation on the issues taken up on this website. We have spoken to many environmental, community and political groups. If you would like us to speak to your group simply contact us.
Are held regularly in our meeting rooms at Level 1/27 Hardware Lane, Melbourne. We promote rigorous community debate on social and environmental issues. Everyone is welcome. Check our Events.
We proudly keep our material up to date. The foundations for Georgism are laid out in our Council Ratings system. This gives Australia the ability to compile the evidence that many say is world-best practice. We rely on the work of the Land Values Research Group to achieve this. The Site Rating Defence Group also does exceptional work. Individual members and a Research Officer contribute as well. Check the evidence
Yes, since 1904. This impressive record “is a tribute to the succession of capable editors who are willing to give their services in an unpaid capacity to the production of our paper. It is equally a tribute to the members of our movement who, through their subscriptions and donations, have met the printing and distribution costs over such a long period in the quest for economic and social justice.” (Progress Centennial Edition)
We rely solely on the strengths of our arguments to win supporters. We do not pressure people into our beliefs but we do hope that now that you have found our website you will take time to consider the importance of what we are saying. By all means join today, but if you would like more time why not take up our offer of a free introductory subscription to Progress Magazine. There are many similar organisations around the world that you can investigate via our links page.
To curious minds!