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Rich and Poor Gap Widens - New Reports

17 June 2014 at 10:15 am
Staff Reporter
The gap between the richest and poorest Australians is worsening, according to an Oxfam Australia poll and confirmed in a report by Australia21 in collaboration with The Australia Institute.

Staff Reporter | 17 June 2014 at 10:15 am


Rich and Poor Gap Widens - New Reports
17 June 2014 at 10:15 am

The gap between the richest and poorest Australians is worsening, according to an Oxfam Australia poll and confirmed in a report by Australia21 in collaboration with The Australia Institute.

The poll findings coincided with release of Oxfam Australia’s report, Still the Lucky Country?, which said Australia’s richest nine individuals have a net worth of $58.6 billion ($US54.8 billion), more than the bottom 20 per cent (4.54 million people).

It also said Australia’s richest person owns more than the bottom 10 per cent of the population – more than 2 million people.

The poll shows 79 per cent of Australians surveyed think the gap between the richest and poorest Australians has widened over the past decade, with the majority of those saying this is making Australia a worse place to live.

The research’s release coincides with the lead-up to Friday’s Civil 20 (C20) Summit in Melbourne, the first of the G20 satellite conferences in the lead-up to the G20 Leaders Summit in November. G20 officials from around the world are also in Melbourne meeting over three days.

Oxfam Australia Chief Executive Helen Szoke, who sits on the steering committee of the C20, said the numbers were a staggering illustration that the wealth gap in Australia was stark and mirrored a global trend that needed to be addressed by the Federal Government and governments around the world.

“Oxfam’s poll results show that inequality is clearly on the minds of many Australians,” Dr Szoke said.

Oxfam’s poll has also found:

  • 70 per cent of Australians surveyed think it is unfair that the richest 1 per cent of Australians owns more than 60 per cent of the poorest Australians;

  • 76 per cent of Australians don’t think the very wealthy pay enough tax;

  • 75 per cent think it is important that the Australian Government take action to close the gap between average and poor Australians, and the richest Australians;

  • 79 per cent of Australians think the rich have too much influence over where this country is headed;

  • 79 per cent of Australians want world leaders to tackle the growing issue of inequality.

According to another report by Australia21 in collaboration with The Australia Institute, the growing gulf between those in the top range and those in the lower ranges of wealth and income distribution has profound effects on population health and wellbeing, and educational outcomes, and there is increasing evidence that increasing inequality impedes economic productivity and growth.

Co-author of the report called “Advance Australia Fair? What to do about growing inequality in Australia”, Dr David Morawetz said the current level of inequality and its rate of growth were bad for all Australians, poor and rich.

“Global concern about inequality is great. Yet in Australia, serious public discussion about it has barely begun. Politicians will not act as long as the community accepts growing inequality passively,” Dr Morawetz said.

“This report suggests 10 ways to Advance Australia in a Fairer manner.

“Using remedial levers like our 10 proposed ways to Advance Australia Fair is never straightforward. There is likely to be opposition from those whose income, power and influence will be diminished under a fairer distribution of income and wealth.”


1. Promote a national conversation about inequality, its effects, and ways of dealing with it.

2. Increase the fairness and adequacy of government revenue raising through taxation reforms.

3. Implement fairer funding reforms for schools.

4. Invest nationally in early childhood development, especially for disadvantaged groups.

5. Set all pensions and benefits no lower than the poverty line and Index them to average wages.

6. Establish more job creation programs in priority areas.

7. Develop new models of employee management and cooperative ownership of business.

8. Implement the World Health Organisation recommendations on the social determinants of health.

9. Encourage an inquiry by the Productivity Commission into the impact of inequality on economic efficiency and growth.

10. Establish a national research program to monitor progress and test the impact of interventions aimed at reducing inequality.

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