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Rural Landownership in South East Australia since European Occupation

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This paper provides historical context for contemporary discourses on landownership, notably the changing scale of absentee landownership and foreign ownership since 1849. Trends in landownership since European occupation of one of the most agriculturally productive regions in south east Australia, the Lachlan River catchment, are examined at regional, shire and district scales. Evolution of tenure indicates that absentee landowners owned most of the land until after 1935, but between the 1860s and 1970 the proportion of landowners who were resident landowners increased. In 1970, resident landowners owned most land. Since 1970, absentee landownership has increased, the most dramatic increase occurring after 1990. By 2009, absentee landownership had reached the high levels of 1849. While most contemporary types of landowners have historical antecedents, new trends include changes in the country of origin of foreign investors, increased small property ownership by city-based individuals and the establishment of Indigenous incorporated ownership.
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Keywords: Indigenous landownership; Rural history; absentee landowner; corporate agriculture; foreign landownership; landownership

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Charles Sturt University, Australia

Publication date: December 1, 2013

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