8 June 2005
A research paper published on the St Vincent de Paul Society website shows that more than 8 million Australians have disposable incomes of less than $21,000 a year, with a further 4.5 million living in households with a total income of less than $400 a week. It also shows that in the decade from 1994 to 2003, real mean incomes for the poorest Australians grew at a slower rate than those on higher incomes.
The report also points out that the recent federal Budget tax cuts were likely to increase the gap between rich and poor with those on incomes of $20,000 p.a. receiving a benefit of $280 (1.4%) whilst those on an income of $100,000 p.a. receiving a benefit of $3252 (3.3%)
"Given the huge bias in Government largesse towards those on higher incomes, outlined in the May 2005 Budget, there is no doubt that income inequality will grow even further once the tax cuts and welfare reforms are implemented," the report said.
The paper went on to point out that inequality in income leads to inequality in access to health services; housing; education; transport and communications; care and social amenities.
The paper concluded that the nation faced a choice. To continue down the present path would inevitably lead to the creation of a "second Australia" where disadvantage and inequality is entrenched, and where Australia would be characterized by sharper division, discord, increased crime and urban deterioration.
On the other hand we could first admit the problem and then mobilize all levels of government to produce a solution. The nation is wealthy enough to lift all of its citizens out of poverty the fact that we do not do so "is a matter of choice not affordability"