Your browser is not Javascript enable or you have turn it off. We recommend you to activate for better security reason


As inequality grows, so does resistance

Written by: on


by Bill F.

The Australia Institute recently published a research paper called Income and Wealth Inequality in Australia. It exposes the vast gap between the very wealthy and the very poor in this country.

Most startling is the revelation that the seven richest people in Australia have greater wealth between them than the whole bottom 20% of the population, or 1.73 million households.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the combined wealth of the bottom 20% amounts to $54 billion, while the BRW Rich List credits the top seven fat cats as owning more than $56 billion.

Gina Rinehart       (mining)                   $22 billion
Frank Lowry         (shopping centres)    $6.9 billion
James Packer       (media)                    $6 billion
Pratt family          (packaging)              $5.6 billion
Ivan Glasenberg   (mining)                   $5.6 billion
Harry Triguboff      (property)                 $4.9 billion
Wing Mau Hui       (property)                 $4.8 billion

While successive Labor and Liberal governments have all raved on about balancing the budget, they have facilitated the progressive transfer of national wealth to the wealthiest sector of the population at the expense of the rest.

This has occurred over the past decade at an increasing rate due to the reduction of marginal income tax rates and concessions that amount to nearly $170 billion in foregone revenue for the government.

Tax not paid stays in the pocket, and the top 10% have benefitted far more the bottom 80% of taxpayers.

The Abbott-Hockey austerity budget continues this transfer of wealth, with further cuts to company tax, and the indexation of the age pension to CPI rather than male average earnings. Age pensioners will be falling further behind community standards while company profits will be boosted.

This is a stark reminder of how the capitalist state always works in the interest of the ruling class and the handful of individual characters who have clawed their way to the top of the pyramid.

While this exposure is well and good, it falls short of exposing the even greater transfer of wealth taking place every day through the repatriation of corporate profits overseas, interest paid on foreign loans, and bank, insurance and superannuation fees.

The corporate takeover of government services and utilities through privatisation has hit working people especially hard, paying much more for water, gas, electricity and public transport.

If the sweep of austerity budget measures goes through parliament, working people will cop massive increases in healthcare, education and childcare costs, as well reductions and restrictions in services and benefits.

Again, further wealth transfer to the ‘private providers’, with second-rate services for the working poor and overwhelmed charities for the unemployed, the disabled , the pensioners.

The myth of Australia being an egalitarian society has been well and truly shattered. The myths that most of us are ‘middle class, and that there are no serious class tensions, have also been shattered.

As the anti-budget rallies have shown, large sections of the people have had a gut full. They are talking, mobilising, organising. Many still look to parliamentary solutions, but with more scepticism than belief. Many are looking beyond parliament, placing more faith in community and social action to force change.

Harder times are coming, but the spirit of the people is cause for optimism.


Print Version - new window Email article


Go back