Prosper Australia is a non government organisation inspired by economic justice. When wealth produced from land – the earth and natural monopolies – is the funding base for government, equality of opportunity becomes possible for all humanity.
This concept was developed during the 18th Century era of Classical Economics. The theory was clarified when the self-educated Henry George wrote “Progress and Poverty”. The success of this book and the strength of his oratory prompted a world-wide movement.
We reach out to business on lower taxes and greater efficiencies (through the removal of deadweight taxes) and to progressives on urban density, self funding public infrastructure and resource conservation.
Prosper Australia is primarily a voluntary organisation with sister organisations throughout Australia and the world.
In Victoria we have a number of related groups including:
In Tasmania we have:
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).
Prosper Australia grew out of the ferment of social reform at the beginning of the twentieth century. Although there was landowner opposition to the idea of untaxing work and taxing land instead, this reform enjoyed widespread support. During the first twenty years or so of the last century our journal PROGRESS reached a circulation of 20,000. Both the conservative and Labor Parties put Land Value Taxation on their policy platforms. A good beginning had been made. We were part of a wider movement for a more equitable society and dynamic economy.
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 a permanent home and duration. Another very generous benefactor donated money and began the Henry George Foundation (Australia). These initiatives gave the movement a sound financial base.
Key economic reforms could be made at a local level: to levy council rates on the value of the location and not on the buildings. Once the merits of land value capture was demonstrated at a 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 per cent of ratepayers demanded council conduct a poll to decide on the rating system preferred by the majority. Data was painstakingly collated to show site value rating was just and equitable and that most people would benefit. This hard work lead to a gradual shift and councils submitted to the demand of ratepayers with changes to site value rating. This was clearly democracy at work.
In the 1970’s, a change to the law in Victoria introduced a charge of $1 to view the value of an allotment (a land title). This had been free. Here was a deathblow to anyone compiling local government statistics, 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 return to net annual value (or Capital Improved Value), disguised in the Kennett-era amalgamation of councils. Ratepayers who had used the democratic process to move the rate base to Site Value were now rated on their improvements as well. Kennett also increased the cost of viewing land titles to $20 per title.
Canberra and Leasehold
The Site Value system of revenue raising worked very well in Canberra. Planners knew that when siting the national capital in Canberra became publicly known, it would prompt a crippling land grab. A leasehold system was devised to stop this. Canberra was created without land speculation and prohibitive high land prices. Canberra designer Walter Burley Griffin, a member of our organisation in the early years, helped draw up the leasehold system. This 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 saw 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 rating change were heavy blows to Georgists. All our hard work was systematically dismantled. The local government work had not led to permanent improvement. 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 put the undeniable evidence before citizens.
About Us Today
Prosper is part of a worldwide network working for economic justice. We believe a just revenue system lies at the heart of many of Australia’s social issues. We are concerned about poverty, homelessness, joblessness, community fragmentation and the destruction of our environment. We know 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 Governments can obtain their revenue?” There is not enough attention paid to the second question because people delegate this complex task to government and trust it to behave impartially. People drive great distances for cheaper petrol, but spend no 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 enjoyed steady support from academic and business circles and the many people who simply see the sense of funding government this way. We hold regular meetings and forums to lift understanding of these concepts. These meetings are advertised on our web site and in our 109 year old journal Progress Magazine
How Do We Keep it All Running?
Members elect an Executive each year to direct Prosper’s activities. The executive meets monthly. The movement’s work is done by volunteers and a small cadre of thinkers and communicators from our rooms in the heart of the city of Melbourne. Here we have meeting rooms, our research library and bookstore. Members are welcome to use the facilities, deepen their understanding and debate the issues.
We maintain a panel of speakers to address other organisations on these key economic issues. We reach out constantly to environmental, community and political groups. If you would like a speaker for your group simply contact us.
Are held regularly in our meeting rooms at Level 2/22 Punch Lane, Melbourne. We promote rigorous community debate on economic, social and environmental issues. All are welcome. Check our Events.
Prosper collates fresh economic data from a wide range of sources, including our own researches. The foundations of Georgism are laid out in our Council Ratings system. We provide Australia with the evidence that many say is world-best practice through the Land Values Research Group. The Site Rating Defence Group also does exceptional work. Individual members and a Researcher 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 to conform with 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. Please join today, but if you would like more information, 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!