Rum Corps to white-shoe brigade

AUSTRALIA HAS MORE land per capita than any other continent.[i] When the great European powers set out to conquer the Americas, Africa and the Great South Land they encountered both closely settled and sparsely spread communities. Even if Australia's Aboriginal population was more than 1 million, it was very sparse. [ii] Europeans arriving from the cities and towns of the industrial revolution grasped the prospect of land acquisition and ownership on an unimaginable scale. Coming from societies where land ownership and landlords' rights were at the heart of political power, they saw a continent without fences, without a trace of the feudal land laws that had moulded their home counties.

The cycle of land speculation began with the First Fleet and has continued unabated ever since. Land speculation has been central to the Australian experience and resulted for a while in the highest rate of owner-occupied housing in the world.

Australians, for generations, have demanded the right to buy (or even be given) land and to proclaim their right to develop it for the highest possible economic return. Very few Australian political parties have ever been brave enough to question this notion at the heart of the national hobby of land speculation.

The nature of land use has changed since first settlement, from the decline of small farming properties to the growth of infrastructure-intensive land use for mining and agribusiness. But since the cities grew much more rapidly, most of the property action, from the l880s boom in Melbourne, to the rash of coastal developments since the 1960s, has taken place in urban and suburban settings.


AT THE TIME of European settlement, Australia was very much a "human, social landscape" shaped by its indigenous custodians; an environment that was, "in quite a literal sense, a manufacture of the hands, firesticks, footprints and ‘appetites' of Aboriginal Australians".[iii] Along with the guns, germs and grog, the white settlers brought ashore an idea fundamentally foreign to indigenous experience – the concept of land as a divisible and alienable commodity, to be owned by an individual rather than a community.[iv] The absence of any physical evidence of proprietary land ownership – fences, boundaries, allotments and "improvements" – led the newcomers to leap to the conclusion that the new land was theirs for the taking. Through the self-justificatory prism of terra nullius, the indigenous populace was invisible as the settlers contemplated how the land could be acquired, used and resold. This "empty" territory beneath the Union Jack was vested in the Crown, with colonial governors empowered to disburse land by way of grant, to lay the foundations for a productive economy.

Land grants were first limited to emancipated convicts, then extended to free settlers and marines, and finally to officers. Governor Phillip exercised his power sparingly. Determined that the land be used productively, he insisted on occupation and improvement. The appointment of Major Francis Grose in 1792 – "proprietor" of the New South Wales Corps[v] – literally put the thieves in charge of the treasury. The quantities of land doled out escalated dramatically, as Grose allowed his officers to help themselves. By 1828 they had carved up more than 1.2 million hectares of land.[vi] Exploiting their trade monopoly and the leverage this afforded, these commissioned rogues expanded their holdings even further, hustling distressed mortgagees and broken-spirited grantees into trading land on fire-sale terms, often for little more than a guzzle of rum. The officers' own troops were particularly susceptible to their avaricious intent and "liquid" terms of trade, as Richard Atkins (who would later become the colony's judge-advocate and was himself not averse to a drop) noted with dismay in 1794:

Governments giving Grants was surely intended for other purposes than that of giving a Soldier a few Gallons of Spirit. Yet that is the case, 2, 3 or 4 Gall: of Spirit will get a grant of 25 Acres. It is general for every Soldier indiscriminately has a grant, and of the whole amountg to 400, not 30 have kept them.[vii]


DESPITE THE COLONIAL authorities, original hope that granted land would be put to productive use, to the Rum Corps land was as much a commodity as alcohol. Unlike the dispossessed original inhabitants, for whom it was a source of shelter, sustenance and spirituality, the mercantile overlords of the officer caste were interested in land for one purpose – speculation; less than a 10th of land distributed by decree was cleared, a 40th cultivated.[viii] Attempts to discourage speculation by Lachlan Macquarie and later administrations met with rancour and defiance, as the profiteers resisted any attempt to dilute their easily acquired privilege.

The British Government handed out vast tracts of arable land for peanuts in both NSW and Tasmania. Bargain-basement deals were done with British financial interests, keen to sink their teeth into and bite off chunky profits in the new colony. The Australian Agricultural Company and Van Diemen's Land Company benefited particularly from this official largesse, acquiring huge holdings for minimal outlay. These handouts set the scene for the emergence of colonial dynasties, such as the Macarthurs, and set the foundations for the new colony's "old money" empires. The Rum Corps era of free grants also ensured that the owning or leasing of property would be central to the new society being created. Speculation and acquisition were quickly entrenched in the antipodean colonies.


THE CROSSING OF the Blue Mountains by Blaxland, Wentworth and Lawson in 1813 paved the way for further land grabs. Desperate convicts who dreamt of a fabled Shangri-la beyond the Great Dividing Range were bitterly disappointed, but for the acquisitive and avaricious the vast tracts of grassland over the mountains were a speculative paradise. Legislation in 1829 divided the new lands into strictly defined portions, the Nineteen Counties, settlement outside which was prohibited on pain of prosecution. With limited resources and the inability to properly police such a vast area, the colonial authorities were playing little more than a game of bluff. Population pressures, increasing livestock numbers and sheer lust for land quickly led to the emergence of "squatting", as settlers moved beyond the established county boundaries and pegged out their own in defiance of the administration. With little effective recourse, the Government reluctantly accepted the presence of the squatters and handed over Crown land for nominal lease and licence fees.

Pioneers, some motivated solely by greed, claimed much of the continent. While the house rules varied, speculative interests invariably held the winning hand. In South Australia EG Wakefield's theories of colonisation, which attempted to regularise the process of land distribution and settlement dispersion through fixed uniform sales and systematic selection of immigrants, were abandoned after the fledgling colony became bankrupt in 1841. Absentee land-holders and speculators moved in, clinging to Adelaide while buying and selling property, lining their own accounts but not adding to those of the strained colony. Western Australia adopted a pragmatic approach from the outset, rewarding rather than resisting squatters by granting secure tenure and bonuses to those who discovered new pastures.[ix]

The opening up of Queensland produced a land rush of enormous and bloody dimensions. The quest for acquisition and the expansion of the white frontier occasioned a quiet but vicious dispossession of the indigenous population, as settlers with both "the will and the weapons" brutally extended the concept of absolute and exclusive proprietary right over a previously communal resource.[x] Meanwhile, back in NSW and Victoria, policy attempts, such as the selection acts of the early 1860s, which aimed at ensuring productive use and dispersing the land ownership, were overborne by raw cupidity as the grab-and-hold ploys begun in the early years of settlement continued. Practices such as dummying and peacocking (picking the key riparian parcels of a run, leaving the residue useless to anyone else) ensured that regional lands remained locked away in the grip of the giant pastoral companies and kings in grass castles.

The profit incentive overwhelmed any political attempts to regulate distribution and use of Australia's regional lands. Rapacity, not regulation, was the guiding principle of early land distribution, sketching a framework for agricultural land holdings that endures to this day. The fact that the Australian grazing industry remains an extreme example of land concentration, with millions of hectares held by the top 50 producers, is testament to the colonial legacy.[xi]


THE TENSIONS BETWEEN colonial power and the squattocracy mattered little, however, to the majority of Australians, who from the outset preferred the cities to the bush. As historian Graeme Davison has observed, "colonial Australia was born urban and quickly became suburban".[xii] Without the baggage of historical privilege and entrenched property ownership, newcomers saw the possibility of an urban lifestyle unimaginable in the crowded and stifling British metropolises. Nineteenth-century Australia, with its "air of wholesomeness and space",[xiii] booming economy and dispersed wealth, offered inhabitants the opportunity for previously unattainable levels of domestic independence. An Englishman's home was his castle, and in Australia, every man, it seemed, might have one. By the late 1830s, estate agents in Sydney, Melbourne, Hobart and Adelaide were urging "shopkeepers and tradesmen, as well as gentlemen and merchants, to acquire their own suburban estates".[xiv]

Australia had inherited the English common-law land system where a vendor proved the right to sell land by producing deeds showing a chain of ownership. Sir Robert Torrens, a South Australian politician, introduced legislation in 1858 that created a statutory system of land legislation that simplified the transfer or sale or land. Taken up promptly by all the other colonies, by the 1880s the Australian Torrens System had been adopted in some American states and Canadian provinces. Land law in Australia remains under the legal jurisdiction of state governments, which continue to benefit from stamp-duty revenue on the sale of land and property, especially in booms. [xv]

Seizing the liberal finance opportunities offered by pullulating building societies, from the late 1870s, Australians scrambled for blocks on the suburban estates that opened up along expanding rail and tram networks in the major cities. Bricks and mortar "spread like a lava flood"[xvi] across the fringes of Australia's cities, as the middle and lower classes sought domestic castles – surrounded, of course, by moats of trim lawn and proper gardens. Thus, in the second half of the 19th century, the Great Australian Dream was born, an ideal propagated feverishly by all major political factions and parties. Conservatives pointed to home ownership as the very embodiment of liberalism's self-help ethos, while Labor saw domestic dominion as the divine right of every man in the working man's paradise. Regardless of political persuasion, property ownership assumed a central importance in the Australian psyche – something far more than a means of providing security and shelter, but an utterly "essential" component of the "Australian way of life".[xvii]

By the beginning of the 1880s, almost half of Australia's housing stock was owned or being bought by its inhabitants, one of the highest levels of owner-occupation in the industrialised world.[xviii] Although ownership levels plateaued for the first half of the 20th century, they spiked again after World War II. The long postwar boom, lifting of rent controls, low interest rates and relatively cheap suburban building blocks (without the upfront infrastructure contribution demanded by councils in recent years) saw home ownership continue to rise. Higher incomes, assisted by generous federal and state subsidy arrangements, spurred home ownership levels to 70 per cent of the population by 1961 – then the world's highest.[xix] In the uncertainty of the postwar era, buying a home was not just a way of securing a slice of the backyard way of life but of playing a role in the very defence of the nation against the noxious threat of communism. As one Queensland Labor MP remarked, home ownership "would slow down the march of communism" by giving people "pride of ownership".[xx]


DESPITE THE IDEALS that property ownership supposedly embodied thrifty individualism or the egalitarianism of a "property-owning democracy", its popularity was underpinned more by desire for residential and financial security than any moral imperative. Indeed, Australians have long been persuaded that the fortunes gouged out by Rum Corps brigands and early pastoralists might also be available to the ordinary person in the property game, where everyone, it seems, could be a winner. As early as 1886, a Sydney land company was entreating citizens, rich and poor, to speculate in suburban land. "Always resaleable", land could bring returns of "100 per cent and more within a year". "Banks might fail but land could not."[xxi]

At the start of the 21st century, almost one fifth of all Australian households owned or was buying at least one other property and many were property owners manqué through superannuation and property trusts. With munificent state and federal incentives – cash grants, tax and interest-rate concessions and other forms of assistance – helping to fund property ownership, many Australians increasingly expanded their property holdings to include not just the family home but a holiday home and sometimes additional investment properties.

The political preference for home ownership and a corresponding lack of emphasis on public housing not only drove owner-occupancy levels to unparalleled heights but also left the rental market open to private interests. With public spending directed toward the subsidisation of home ownership and institutional investors uninterested, the housing needs of those who lacked either the desire or the means to acquire dwellings was met by a growing class of petty landlords. Appetites whetted by the family home being a capital-gains-tax-free asset on which further finance could be raised, Australians with incomes over $40,000 and household incomes over $70,000[xxii] increasingly used negative gearing to buy residential and even commercial property.[xxiii] In the process, we became not only a nation of proud home owners but a country of amateur landlords.

The convergence of the Great Australian Dream of owning a detached house with the Great Australian Hobby of property speculation[xxiv] pushed our cities up and out. The edges of Australian metropolitan areas sprawled ever wider, greying out green space with kerbs, gutters and coral-tiled roofs as the desire for life in a suburban setting continued unabated.

The best capital gains, however, stuck stubbornly to the inner-urban areas, where land was scarce and expensive. To maximise investment returns, investors and speculators thus began to build up, rather than out. Despite the cultural attachment to the free-standing house and an accompanying popular loathing of flats and high-rises, investors reasoned that six, 12 or 20 flats took up little if any more room than a single dwelling or two, generated a much more attractive rate of return and were likely to be cheaper to maintain than a detached house.

These "prisons in the sky" weren't being built with the owner-occupier in mind. It was "every man's right" to own a home, but the single mums, the elderly poor, the unemployed and newlyweds priced out of this ideal would have to make do with renting, quite possibly for life.[xxv] While this remains a common option in many societies, including Europe, such societies have a tradition of much longer leases and much greater security of tenancy than in Australia, where the norm is a year-to-year lease and a landlord can easily remove tenants by the simple ruse of stating that the property is to be sold. Once the tenant is out, the landlord can re-lease at the highest rent the market will bear. Rental bond boards in every state now give tenants some protection but nothing other than much longer leases will give them any real security of housing tenure.


BY THE MID-1960s, Australia was in the throes of yet another boom. First flats and then, once the problem of how to freehold air space was solved with strata-title legislation, high-rise units mushroomed in inner-urban areas, especially in Sydney and on the Gold Coast. In a frenzy of egalitarian speculation, engineers became builders, builders re-emerged as developers and developers were transformed into financiers, while teachers and public servants poured their superannuation and jam-tin savings into speculative off-the-plan developments in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

Investors large and small tripped over themselves to pour their cash into real estate: "everybody is an expert and lack of knowledge is not considered a handicap", as one contemporary pundit noted.[xxvi] When this bubble inevitably burst in the mid-1970s, office towers had reshaped city skylines, vacant estate wastelands fringed the metropolitan outskirts, three-storey walk-up unit blocks studded the inner suburbs and miscreants and insolvents filled the law courts. [xxvii]

The thirst for profit from property during this period was unquenchable and nothing was an obstacle to those bent on extracting money from otherwise unusable land. From the 1960s, the white-shoe brigade and blue-sky dreamers began imagining ways in which to bend and, as necessary, break coastal environments, hopeful of conjuring up profitable markets from mudflats.

Alfred Grant developed large parcels of land at Buderim Mountain on the Sunshine Coast, converting banana plantations to building blocks and undertook the original subdivision for the Kawana Waters canal estates. He was ahead of the pack but he went broke in the credit squeeze in 1961. Lead by magnate-cum-mayor Bruce Small, developers set about importing the waterside lifestyle of the Florida Keys to the swamplands of the Gold Coast and northern NSW. Delicate estuarine systems and mangrove flats were dredged, filled and transformed into saleable blocks of land fronting placid canal waterways with names such as Miami Keys and Paradise Island.

The 1977 abolition of death duties in Queensland enticed leisure lizards and the new rich north with the promise of a carefree, low-tax lifestyle in an aquatic playground. The developers didn't stand still for long enough to see that their man-made waters were often "muddy, stagnant and unproductive",[xxviii] better suited to hosting midges than toasting margaritas – the profits were too great to ignore. Their monuments are to be found in marina and golf course complexes from Sanctuary Cove to Port Douglas. They have wreaked environmental havoc at Nelly Bay on Magnetic Island, Queensland, compromised the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and been baled out by both conservative and Labor governments.[xxix] Bargain-basement building blocks, mostly aimed at investors with a few bob to spare, were offered at remote parts of the Ninety Mile Beach, Gippsland, Victoria, the mudflats overlooking Westernport, Victoria, on the Queensland's Moreton Bay islands and on the Sunshine Coast's wallum in Queensland.

Ocean Shores, today a sedate residential neighbourhood on the northern NSW coast populated by retirees, began life in 1968 as the dream of American property magnate Paul Stocker. Having bought up hectares of farmland, Stocker imagined Australia's "newest prestige address" on the site, a mega-resort replete with multimillion dollar clubhouse, golf course, yacht club, marina, private beach club, multistorey apartments and thousands of house sites. Bulldozers were brought in to clear the scrub and fill the creeks, CIA agents were enlisted to sell allotments to United States troops in Vietnam, and singer Pat Boone became the project's chief spruiker. By the early 1980s, despite the well-renumerated palaver, few blocks had been bought and even fewer built on. Ocean Shores was little more than a "kerbed desert" and an official government planning report declared that it "had little to recommend it in terms of convenience as a residential location or tourist destination".[xxx] Entrepreneur Alan Bond bought into the development, promising it would one day host the America's Cup. Instead Bond went to jail and the America's Cup never came to the east coast.[xxxi]


DESPITE A BRIEF flirtation with stocks and shares brought on by the privatisations and demutualisations in the 1980s and dotcom hysteria of the late 1990s, real estate prices remain a hot topic of conversation among most Australians, including those who can't afford to buy. Politicians boast of the cranes towering over city centres erecting high-rise citadels.[xxxii] The current crop of "Meriton moneyboxes" provide investment vehicles for retiring baby boomers, suitable for letting to their children, the "knowledge workers" chasing an inner-city global lifestyle of lattes, laptops and lavash. Culturally, the buying and selling of property has recently become the topic of prime-time television programs, mixing real estate hype with advice about renovation and presentation, especially for resale. The high point of this obsession came in the final episode of The Block, watched by even more people than an another captivating fairytale, Princess Diana's funeral. Australians have taken their Burke's Backyard love affair with the garden one step further and embraced real estate as a central tenet of national life.[xxxiii]


THE AUSTRALIAN APPETITE for consuming the landscape is no better demonstrated than in high-rise buildings with water views – the mainstay of the Queensland and Sydney speculative markets – and in canal development. Views are a relatively new commodity. Most houses built on Sydney Harbour foreshores prior to World War II still faced the street, with their backs to the harbour, which was littered and polluted – a working harbour. Balconies were almost unknown. From the l950s, architects designed houses to face the water and the prewar stock has been expensively renovated to do the same.

The introduction of strata-title legislation in all states in the l960s underpinned an apartment boom that has continued almost unabated ever since. Water views have driven the top end of the Sydney market. High-rise apartments now infest every coastal resort that allows them from Port Macquarie, NSW, to Scarborough Beach in Perth.

Even the Melbourne property market has discovered views. In the l950s and l960s the best views in Melbourne were to be had from the high-rise blocks built by the Victorian Housing Commission, but no longer. Developers in search of new products to offer to baby boomers and Asian investors have turned to high-rise apartments in and near the CBD, just as they have in Brisbane. Most of these speculative apartments are built with one or two car spaces and combined toilet/bathrooms, even though many of the renters, including overseas students, don't have cars and live in group households where separate toilets would make more sense. But development companies, whether they build for owner occupiers or investors, have little or no interest in who live in their new constructions, only that they sell promptly and profitably.

At the top end of the market, from the banks of the Brisbane River to Circular Quay, the hyperbole and the structures are becoming more and more aggressive. Harry Seidler's Riparian Plaza on the Brisbane River has eight storeys of above-ground parking so the millionaire inhabitants can have their Porches and BMWs to hand. Yet such tower blocks have better access to public transport than any other residences in Australia.

Only places with wealthy residents, such as Noosa Heads, Byron Bay, Broome and Lorne – with hybrid pro-development and pro-environment factions on their councils – have resisted the high-rise boom.

While high-rise allows us to consume the view and dominate the landscape – casting shadows on the hoi polloi in the immediate hinterland – canal developments take consumption of the landscape one step further. Developers, having been refused permission to colonise Australia's only coastal public space – the beach – turned their attention instead to low-lying and mangrove areas to make canals, delivering absolute waterfront land on demand to a hungry public. Huge mansions loom over the canals replete with pontoons, even if the owners can't afford to buy, let alone operate, the 20-metre yachts that some of these properties are designed to accommodate.

One of the best ways to inspect such property in Australia is to hire a dinghy and explore the canals of the Gold Coast and the Sunshine Coast, from Kawana Waters to Noosa. The Galbraithian formulation of private affluence and public squalor is nowhere better seen than when you leave the canal home in Kawana Waters and take the Nicklin Way to Caloundra, one of the ugliest, most congested bulky-goods strip ever to grace a Western city. Funded by developers in the late l950s, this suburban strip was an exchange for subdivision rights to vast sections of coastal scrubland.

The potential for canal development in Australia is almost unlimited. All of the cane fields abutting the northern rivers in NSW – including the Richmond and the Clarence – could be given over to canal development. The same could happen between Mt Coolum and Nambour in Queensland.[xxxiv] Melbourne does not lend itself to canal development. The nearest the hapless Victorians could do is redevelop their docklands, one of the windiest sites in the city.


MEANWHILE, THE THEMES of our past echo clearly in the present. The peacocks that picked the eyes out of pastoral runs during the selection era of the 1860s have evolved into today's "vulture funds"; cartels of wealthy urban professionals circling distressed vendors and drought-stricken farmers.[xxxv]Modern landowners and speculators are just as sensitive to politicians fooling about with the property game as the privileged castes of colonial times – the recent hostility that met Labor politician Mark Latham's mere suggestion that the subsidy of negative gearing be reconsidered is reminiscent of the fury Governor Macquarie and successors encountered as they attempted to pry loose the venal grasp of the Rum Corps. Beneath the rhetoric of a "property-owning democracy" lies the fact that some citizens will never be able to afford homes of their own. Some citizens will do this out of choice and have the financial resources to survive, but retired people without adequate incomes face a continuing battle to find affordable accommodation. Many have to use mobile homes at a last resort.

The real estate binge has led to a phenomenal waste of building resources and the ruin of many of our environmentally sensitive landscapes, especially on the coast. Some parcels of land on the Gold Coast are now seeing their fifth structures in as many decades.

While Aborigines were reinserted into the landscape with the High Court Mabo decision in 1992 and its follow-up, the Wik judgement in 1996, their reappearance is somewhat chimerical. Despite the hysteria that greeted the High Court decisions and fears that suburban backyards and city streets would be swallowed up in Aboriginal land grabs across the nation, native title has had little, if any, impact on residential commercial real estate. Indeed, as journalist Paul Toohey noted on the 10th anniversary of the decision, "native title is structured so Aborigines always take second place to white interests".[xxxvi] Thus, even in the resources and mining sector, where native title has presented most significantly, miners factor in the negotiation process with claimants as just another layer of expense in an industry that is capital-intensive. For well-funded miners and industrialists, quite accustomed to heavy cost burdens, Toohey noted: "Outcomes are inevitable – you just have to scatter seeds to the blackfellas."[xxxvii]

The lack of meaningful public-housing programs places those priced out of the housing market – an increasing number, including the most vulnerable segments of the populace – at the mercy of a private rental market that can be both expensive and capricious. The suburban girths of our cities spread ever outward, greedily eating up agricultural land and green space and spitting it back as inefficient, monotonous housing estates, while housing affordability spirals out of reach of more and more people.

Solutions are hard to find – as current debate shows, the top tiers of government prefer to blame one another for cost increases or to advance lightweight solutions that might well do more harm than good. The federal Treasurer's recent call for the states to "unlock the lands" and release more land on the urban fringes, would fuel speculative frenzy and feed the bloat of urban sprawl, and do little to make it affordable for those excluded from the market. All the while, central bankers, economists and real estate agents study the entrails of the monthly housing and investment statistics in an attempt to divine the course of the current bubble. Whether it ends with a sharp pop or a long hiss, history suggests we are unlikely to break our addiction to bricks and mortar. For when it comes to property, like the bunyip aristocrats, squatters and land hogs before us, it seems we just can't get enough.  

[i] On the concept of a property-owning democracy, see Leonie Sandercock, Cities for Sale, MUP, 1975,pp.213-231.

[ii] See Noel Butlin Our Original Aggression: Aboriginal Populations of sout eastern Australia 17881850,Allen& Unwin, 1983

[iii] Jim McAllister and Barbara Geno, "Class, Status and Land Conflict: The Democratisation of Grazing Lands in Queensland", Rural Society Vol 11, No 2 (2001), p. 116.

[iv] See generally Henry Reynolds, Frontier: Aborigines, Setters and Land, Allen and Unwin, St Leonards, 1987

[v] John Birmingham, Leviathan: the unauthorised biography of Sydney, Knopf, Sydney, 1999, p. 253.

[vi] This and the following five paragraphs are mainly based on RP Ringrose & Louise Martin, "Land Settlement" entry in The Australian Encyclopaedia, 4th edn, Grolier Society, Sydney1983

[vii] Richard Atkins, New South Wales Journal, 1794 Diary, Macquarie University Division of Law. Available at: (accessed 3 August 2003).

[viii] Reynolds, Frontier, p 190

[ix] McAllister and Geno, "class Statusand Land Conflict", p 119

[x] See generally Henry Reynolds, Frontier: Aborigines, Settlers and Land. Allen and Unwin, St Leonards, 1987, p. 190.

[xi] McAllister and Geno, "Class, Status and Land Conflict", p. 119.

[xii] Davison, 'The great Australian sprawl', Historic Environment, Vol 1, No 13 (1997), p.10.

[xiii] Anthony Trollope, in ibid, p. 13.

[xiv] Ibid, p. 12.

[xv] See entry on Torrens System in Australian Encyclopedia, 6th ed., Australian Geographic, Sydney, 1988

[xvi] James Inglis, in Birmingham, Leviathan, p. 201.

[xvii] Robyn Hollander, ‘Every man's right: Queensland Labor and home ownership 1915-1957', Queensland Review, Vol.2, No.2, 1995, p. 56.

[xviii] Terry Burke, ‘Private rental in Australia', Swinburne Institute for Social Research, 1999.

Available at: http:// (accessed 1 August 2003)

[xix] Jed Donoghue, Bruce Tranter and Robert White, Australian dreams: Home ownership, share ownership and Coalition policy, paper presented to Jubilee conference of the Australasian Political Studies Association Australian National University, Canberra, October 2002, p. 2.

[xx] Felix Dittmer (Member for Mt Gravatt), quoted in Hollander, ‘Every man's right', p. 63.

[xxi] Phillips & Co, ‘How fortunes are made, or sensible talk to those in search of wealth' (1886), in Maurice Daly, Sydney boom, Sydney bust, Allen & Unwin, North Sydney (1982), p. 132.

[xxii] See negative gearing by income group in Australian Tax Office, Taxation Statistics, 1999-2000, Canberra, 2002.

[xxiii] Andrew Beer, 'Housing investment and the private rental sector in Australia', Urban Studies, Vol 36, No 2 (1999), p. 260.

[xxiv] Leonie Sandercock, in Maurice Daly, Sydney boom, Sydney bust, p. 150.

[xxv] For the housing mix in Australian cities since the l960s see Peter Spearritt, Sydney's Century , 2000

and J.Brian McLoughlin, Shaping Melbourne's Future, Cambridge University Press 1992..........................................................................

[xxvi] PH Fekete, in ibid, p.8.

[xxvii] There is no adequate history of the real estate or development industry in Australia, although there are histories of some individual companies. The most reliable published accounts are to be found in entries in the Australian Dictionary of Biography. See in particular the entries on Tomy Bent, Sir Arthur Rickard, L.J.Hooker, Alfred Grant and Stanley Korman

[xxviii] DJ Dunstan, in Ross Fitzgerald, A history of Queensland from 1915 to the 1980s, UQP: St Lucia, 1984, p. 471.

[xxix] See Peter Spearritt ‘The privatisation of public space' in Pat Troy ed. Equity Environment Efficiency,MUP 2000t On the destruction of Bright Point headland and the Nelly Marina development, including the sale of government-subsidised waterfront blocks, see the account in.....................

[xxx] Stephen Brouwer, 'The saga of Ocean Shores', Australian Financial Review: Weekend Review, 9 March 1990, p. 8.

[xxxi] [cite most relevant Bond biog]

[xxxii] [refs to come for Cain, Bjelke and Beattie]

[xxxiii] On Burke see Richard Aitken's entry in Oxford Companion to Australian Gardens, OUP, 2002

[xxxiv] See Kingsley Gum and Peter Spearritt, The Green Space Audit, Brisbane Institute, 2003, pp.1-4

[xxxv] A phenomenon noted recently in John Stensholt and Amanda Gome, 'Flat broke', Business Review Weekly, July 3-9 2003, pp.14-16.

[xxxvi] Paul Toohey, 'Recognising the right people', The Australian, 7 June 2002.

[xxxvii] ibid

Get the latest essay, memoir, reportage, fiction, poetry and more.

Subscribe to Griffith Review or purchase single editions here.

Griffith Review