The 114th Annual Henry George Commemorative Lecture

KICKING SEVEN POINT GOALS!

The 114th Annual Henry George Commemorative Lecture

delivered by: Peter Consandine in Carlton, Melbourne, Wednesday, 8 September 2004

(Revised for publication, 22 February 2006)

It is not the most favourable time to be generating ideas regarding taxation system reform. Because not only is it the time of The Festival of the Boot (the Footy Finals in the two major football codes in Australia) but also the time of the 2004 Federal Election.

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Anything that a Guest Lecturer at an Annual Dinner says at such a time as this will only be ephemeral and probably not widely reported. Only passing interest will be taken. It will be therefore the essential message – published after refinement – that will serve any purpose whatever.

Nevertheless, I have a topic; I have a theme and I hope that I have a legacy.

Given the importance of Australian Rules and Rugby League football to the critical mass of Australians, I beg the reader’s indulgence for a bit while I touch upon the points players and teams earn playing their respective games. I am being expansive here by not omitting the two minor codes – those of Soccer and Rugby Union – from the equation. I am doing this, because – as will be seen – they are relevant to my argument. It is, therefore, no coincidence that I am developing my argument with goals firmly in mind.

In Australian Rules, 6 points are awarded for goals and 1 point is awarded for a behind or a poster (a kick for goal that hits one of the goalposts instead);

In Rugby League, 2 points are awarded for goals (whether they be for conversions of tries or penalty goals) and 1 point is awarded for a field goal;

In Soccer, strictly 1 point is awarded for a goal (whether it be from a foot strike, a “header” – when the ball is headed into the goal – or a penalty goal);

In Rugby Union, 2 points are awarded for a conversion of a try, 3 points are awarded for a penalty goal and also 3 points are awarded for a field goal.

Apart from all the diversity listed above there are two very interesting variations to scoring which count in the scheme of things:

In Australian Rules, if a defending team “rushes a behind” to prevent an attacking team from scoring then 1 point is added to the attacking team’s score;

In Soccer, if a defending team causes the ball to go through its own defended goal it is deemed to be an “own goal” and the attacking team gets 1 more point added to their score.

Quite often, these extra points make the difference between winning and losing matches.

The term “own goal” is both idiomatic and generic. It does not matter that the everyday term stems out of a rival, minor football code because the two words stack up on their own very powerfully.

The Georgist Movement in Australia can be fairly accused of being a perpetual kicker of “own goals” in my opinion. The harsh reality is that this dire situation is going to continue.

It is somewhat difficult to be objective about the problem for us which obtains because, as are all of my other fellow-Georgists, I am integrally and passionately involved in promoting a line of “Georgism”.

Perhaps I am mistaken, but I believe the last time Prosper Australia (Prosper) was politically involved was at the time of the Wills Federal By-Election in 1992. Prosper was then known as Tax Reform Australia (TRA). I became linked with TRA because then leaders, Morrie Williams and Geoff Forster, wanted to “get some mileage for tax reform” with the given political opportunity and there was a willing candidate who was both a newly converted Georgist and a Republican Party Member. I recall how diffuse TRA seemed to be back then. Most people who touch base with us – new enquirers – think the same way. And when one arrives at the front desk at Prosper Headquarters in Hardware Lane, Melbourne, there are many mixed messages confronting one.

I genuinely believe it has been a mistake by the Officers of the Henry George Foundation of Australia (HGFA) to cut the politics and political involvement from the agenda – notwithstanding the temporary taxation benefits for it. To have totally headed off down the charitable, educational path is a road to nowhere. It is the “Mother of all OWN GOALS”! It is just as well The Henry George Club still has a political perspective. I have written and spoken about the fundamental importance of keeping absolute linkages between Georgist Education and Georgist Politics in the past and I have debated this very issue with senior Economic Georgists – all who shall remain nameless – many times over, verbally, by electronic communication and in print.

When the HGFA decided to cut funding to my Georgist organisation viz The Land Value Taxation Society of Australia (LVTSA) on the grounds that this body was politically aligned to a Federally-registered political party viz The Republican Party of Australia, the party was forced into entirely sponsoring Political Georgism, to coin a phrase, from its own meagre resource base.

It would be most ironic in the long term if, beyond my lifetime even, the Georgist Movement in Australia finally “got real” and became united under one umbrella as The Land Value Taxation Society of Australia. Anyway, I am committed to bequeathing the LVTSA name to The HGFA and I am certain all those valued colleagues of mine in the LVTSA gallery would not be averse to my making this contemporary commitment.

Back to The Festival…In a world of constant change, to even mention the idea that an Australian Rules goal could be worth more than 6 points may be heretical to some – particularly hard-line AFL aficionados. However, in the Summer (pre-Season) version of AFL a team can get 9 points for a goal kicked outside the 50 metre arc from the goalposts. And a rushed behind can earn an attacking team 3 points. It is not unimaginable that at some future time the AFL Commission might endorse a recommendation from the AFL Laws of the Game Committee to change the existing rules of AFL football so that a kicker that scored a poster might get the opportunity to have a second kick at goal from, say, a set shot. In this event (a) if a second behind is kicked then 1 more point is added to the score whereas (b) if a goal is subsequently scored then 6 more points are added to the score. Thus: 7 point goals! It could be the term which replaces the somewhat outmoded word ‘bonus’.

Yes, it is strictly playing on words but “kicking 7 point goals” could catch on in the fashion of “own goals”. All the more good reason for The Australian Georgist Movement to get the credit for the terminology if and when it happens!

The more I think about it the more I am convinced that using or utilising sporting terms to get our essential Georgist message across will work. Indubitably, sporting terms e.g. “free kicks”, “coming home with a wet sail”, “two goal turnaround”, “penalty try”, “bull’s eye”, “pipped at the post”, “playing with a straight bat”, “fresh legs”, “step up to the plate”, “hook, line and sinker”, “flick pass”, “putting the cue back in the rack” and “a bet each way” fit famously into “K.I.S.S.” principles. And they’re as sexy as they need be as terms for illustration.

Actually, we have rare instances of “7 Point Goals” already. It’s just that the terminology is not yet a fixture. If a defending AFL footballer infringes an attacking footballer in the goal square after a behind is registered then the umpire can and occasionally does award a “gimme goal” set shot to the infringed attacking player.

Could the Australian Georgist Movement make the play and coin an appropriate and applicable term such as “KICKING 7 POINT GOALS”? That certainly, for me, is a valid question.

The 7 Goals to Kicking 7 Point Goals

  1. We must start becoming uncomfortable with our irrelevance; We must develop a renaissance sense of the past with the Starting Point of impure but pragmatic Geonomics being a superior governing philosophy in every way over impractical, confusing and stultifying Georgism;
  2. We must revisit Federal Land Tax as it was assessed and collected between 1910 and 1952 and refashion it for the 21st Century. Insofar, the GST regime having set the precedent, the Federal Government should annually assess all land values, collect all land value taxation and distribute it per The Commonwealth Grants Commission until the States are abolished and replaced by a two-tier system of governance: national and semi-autonomous, decentralised, regional governments;
  3. We must get with the growing strength of International Land Value Taxation; We must jettison all other terminology and feel it and sell it – not stupidly fight it. Imposts, excises, community charges, site revenues, surcharges, resource rents, economic rents, tariffs etc are taxes. Period. If the “K.I.S.S.” principle is kept to the fore then taxes – especially reforming taxes – can be sold… simply because they can be understood by Joe and Josephine Public;
  4. We must develop a perfectly blended program of Economic Georgism and Political Georgism so that we can jointly make forays and headways into the university academies and learning institutions and the policy-making domains of established political parties and other political lobby groups, industrial groups, community groups etc. If necessary, give due consideration to forming our own Federally-registered political party, say, The Ecological Futures Party, The Prosperity Party or The Affordable Home Ownership Party. I particularly like the latter of the three as, we Georgists, could discernibly become the only true affordable home ownership party in this nation;
  5. We must never lose sight of nor let anyone else lose the grasp of understanding that the revenue question and the land question are inextricably linked and that it was ever thus;
  6. We must employ or subsidise a Negotiator to get courses for Land Economics and Landscaping Science established at all 38 Australian Universities. I estimate that a five year scheme at the cost of $25,000 per annum – adjusted for CPI increases – would be sufficient for the underpinning work to be done which would, in turn, secure sustainable and positive results;
  7. We must be in the front seat of the bandwagon championing “LAND RIGHTS for ALL” as a Right, per se, in any Australian Bill of Rights which might, as statute law, be written to complement the existing monarchical constitution of Australia or any Republican Bill of Rights if and when Australia becomes a Republic (post John Howard’s prime ministership). The seeds of this initiative have already begun to be sowed. Incrementally, over six and more years to date but ongoing, The LVTSA has disseminated – for the charge of a gold coin – taxation reform packages which include promotional stickers with the poignant slogan thereon: “LAND RIGHTS for ALL: Land Value Taxation = Social Justice and Political Equity = Preferred Ecological and Economic Outcomes”.

Australian Georgists aren’t meant to be perpetual losers and kickers of “own goals”.

Australian Georgists must get their collective kicking boots on and, figuratively, “kick arse”! For to kick a goal and to kick a behind simultaneously we will kick seven point goals more often than not!!

2004 and © 2006

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