Phil Ruthven explores the history of property ownership in Australia and considers how this may change over time. 

    The importance of property as part of our nation’s national resources is obvious in figure one. It accounts for some two-thirds of Australia’s assets of $12.8 trillion in mid-2014.

    Property in Australia will pass the $9 trillion mark by the end of this fiscal year.

    It may be of surprise to find our natural resources valued at less than a tenth (9.2 per cent) of the total, given the visibility of the current mining boom, our sixth since 1788. That said, just 10 years ago in 2004, minerals accounted for a mere 3.3 per cent of all resources; and that share may well return in a few decades time as this cycle runs its course.

    Machinery and equipment has eased from 6 per cent of total resources to 5 per cent over the past 10 years, an indication of the declining relative importance of industrial age industries and the cheaper IT equipment in the new age of service industries. Financial assets have stayed steady at 13.7 per cent of all resources over the same period.

    Disappointingly, intellectual property (IP) and intangibles have remained at a lowly 2.3 per cent of total resources; not a good sign for an economy that needs to become a cleverer one in the competitive world of this new century and especially in the Asian mega-region.

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