Saturday, August 30, 2003

Welcome to Peppercornucopia – a wide brown, CPI-indexed egalitarian paradise

The history of settler Australia has had real estate as its core theme, from the earliest times. The law’s turning-a-blind-eye dispossession of the Indigenous landholders was – and still is – necessarily accompanied by a disordered, ad hoc policy for (re)allocating the fictive terra nullius.

Hence this farcical 1989 compromise – a public-minded attempt to move land policy slightly along from the squatter* days. A peppercorn was given a monetary value ($100), and then – in that uniquely Australian way – the deal’s fairness for posterity was ensured by the said peppercorn being CPI-indexed from then on.

And we said they were savages, as we took their land.

* Or more accurately, the first-generation squatter days. It takes several generations for a shockingly short-sighted policy decision to become truly capital.

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