The EJ Craigie AwardCelebrating contemporary Georgist thinkers
Who was EJ Craigie?
“This small bespectacled man was always looked upon in the parliament, as the greatest debater the Parliament of South Australia had ever seen. Craigie really was a very great figure – I think really the greatest man of this [20th] century, and it is a tragedy that he was not given the opportunity to play a more important role in the politics of our country.” – Clyde Cameron (fmr Minister in the Whitlam Government)
EJ ‘Jack’ Craigie was the independent member for Flinders in the South Australian Parliament 1930 to 1941 and a staunch advocate of the ideas of Henry George.
Born into humble circumstances in rural South Australia, the son of a Scottish miner, Jack starting work at 11 years old. He did clerical work for a wheat miller and subsequently spent the greater portion of his life in the baking trade.
In 1900 (at age 29) he first heard of the message of Henry George and obtained the pamphlet, “Thy Kingdom Come,” by Henry George. Returning to Moonta in 1904, Craigie joined the United Labor Party (the predecessor of the Australian Labor Party) with the aim of incorporating single tax theory as party policy and worked as a political journalist for local papers. From 1905 to 1911 he was a Moonta councillor and successfully introduced a single tax system throughout the council area, believing this to be the first step towards the nationwide institution of a tax on unimproved land values.
Craigie achieved electoral success in 1930 in the South Australian House of Assembly Electoral district of Flinders, which covered the west coast of South Australia, a georgist stronghold in Australia. Craigie was re-elected to Flinders in 1933 and 1938, the latter as one of 15 independents in a House of 39 members.
“Communally created values must be safeguarded, and it is the function of government to collect into the public treasury the value attaching to land by reason of the presence of the people, as that is the natural source from which public revenue should be drawn.” – EJ Craigie
Craigie held many important geoist offices. In 1939 he became president of the International Union For Land Value Taxation, and remained as the secretary of the Single Tax League of South Australia as well as being a trustee for the Henry George Foundation of Australia. He took an active part in most of the rating reform campaigns in South Australia and the fact that more than one-third of the South Australian municipal councils switched over to site-value rating is an eloquent tribute to the effectiveness of his efforts.
Some years ago, Prosper made a deliberate decision to join Australia’s economic debate, to advocate reform and contest poor policy wherever it rears its ugly head. To further this, the E. J. Craigie Writing Award for the best Georgist article in the past year was instituted in 2014. The first recepient was Catherine Cashmore for her article Land Tax must kill Negative Gearing, Stamp Duty
Have you read an article or essay that contributes to contemporary Georgist thinking? Please let us know by email firstname.lastname@example.org