Douglas, Bob et al: Inequality in Australia

Douglas, Bob, Sharon Friel, Richard Denniss & David Morawetz

Advance Australia Fair? What to do about Growing Inequality in Australia: Report following a Roundtable held at Parliament House Canberra in January 2014, Australia21 in collaboration with The Australia Institute, Canberra, 2014

Australia has a long and proud tradition of equality, but in recent decades the benefits of strong economic growth have flowed disproportionately to the rich. In the wake of a declining resources boom, there is a growing gulf between those in the top range and those in the lower ranges of wealth and income distributions.

The wealthiest 20 per cent of households in Australia now account for 61 per cent of total household net worth, whereas the poorest 20 per cent account for just 1 per cent of the total. In recent decades the income share of the top 1 per cent has doubled, and the wealth share of the top 0.001 per cent has more than tripled. At the same time, poverty is increasing and many of those dependent upon government benefits, including the unemployment benefit, have fallen well below the poverty line. If we do not pay attention to the problem of financial inequality,
current economic circumstances are likely to make it worse …

In 21st century Australia, do we still care about equality of opportunity, “a fair go for all”? If so, what are we prepared to do to make it happen?

The contributors to the report include many leading economists, journalists, politicians and thinkers. While the report concentrates heavily on Australia in the early 21st century, the analysis and projections in it may be set against historical aspirations and expectations regarding the distribution of wealth and income in Australia. Related comment from Mark Hearn.

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