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Wednesday, 26 October 1910

Senator GARDINER (New South Wales) . - I wish to say a few words in reply to the statements of Senator St. Ledger. I believe that all land values are created by the community, notwithstanding that the honorable senator has characterized those who- think in that fashion as stupid. He instanced the case of some Spaniards who took up land in Victoria, and suddenly imparted a value to it by producing something which the community could use. He appears to forget that, but for the community which consumed those products, that land would still have no value. In the Northern Territory to-day there are thousands of acres of the best lands in Australia, and yet no one is rushing to use them because there is no market accessible for them. I do not mind being classed as stupid with men like Henry George, Adam Smith, and Carlyle.

Senator St Ledger - Has the honorable senator solidly digested all those gigantic authorities?

Senator GARDINER - The honorable senator instanced two cases of land values in Melbourne. He gave the original value of certain land and mentioned the price which it had recently realized. What does that prove? Merely that one section had been trading in values which it never created. What does the Bill contemplate? It does not propose to take from a man the unearned increment, but merely to take a portion of it, and a very small portion. Ten thousand pounds worth of communitycreated values at 5 per cent, will return £500 per annum. Now, if a man be possessed of £500 worth of communitycreated values per annum, all we say to him is that he shall pay £20 a- year to assist us to maintain an adequate defence force to protect his property. We affirm that he shall contribute the enormous sum of id. per £1 on those community-created values. But Senator St. Ledger thinks' that the right to pay the whole of the taxes should belong to the wage-earners of this country. If he thinks it stupid fOr any honorable senator to argue that all land values are created by the people, why is it that the land in Bourke-street is more valuable than 500 miles of the best agricultural land in Victoria? It is not because of its productiveness, but because there are good trading sites there. I hope that he will consider this point, so that when he comes to write another book upon Socialism he will realize that those who advocate taking, for the purposes of the community, a very small percentage of the community-created values in land, are not inspired with a wild idea to attack a special class. The land-owners can well afford to pay for defence purposes the amount which we are asking them to pay. This taxation is merely levied for the purposes of defence. Senator Sayers has been arguing that as our land-owners have paid for their lands they ought not to be taxed upon them. But whatever may have been paid for those lands, their owners have received more than a quid, fro quo for years past. The money which they paid for their purchase has been spent to preserve order, to maintain an efficient police force to protect their property, and to construct roads and railways. In short, it has been used to give them all the facilities of trade which they have enjoyed, and yet they now wish to escape a tax of id. in the £,1 upon their unimproved land values. They describe the tax as an injustice. But what about the injustice which has been inflicted upon the thousands of landless who have never had an opportunity to acquire land ? It is because I wish to remove an injustice from the many, and to afford the few an opportunity of contributing their fair share to the revenue, that I intend to support the amendment.

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