Wealth report reveals big gap
A new report on wage equality finds Australia's richest 20 per cent own almost two thirds of country's wealth.
The Inequality in Australia report by the Australian Council of Social Services (ACOSS) and the University of New South Wales (UNSW) shows Australia is increasingly divided by its back pocket.
The richest 20 per cent of Australian households own 62 per cent of all wealth, while the lowest 50 per cent own just 18 per cent.
Average household wealth for the top 20 per cent group is $2.9 million, which is five times the wealth of the middle 20 per cent and almost a hundred times more than the lowest 20 per cent at $30,000.
A person with a household income in the highest 20 per cent of the population has five times the disposable income of the lowest 20 per cent, the study found.
The average weekly disposable income of the top 1 per cent is 26 times the income of a person in the lowest 5 per cent.
ACOSS chief Cassandra Goldie says the report “deeply challenges our sense of Australia as an egalitarian country”.
“The Australian experience in recent decades shows that inequality has increased strongly in economic boom times and flattened with a slower economy and slow wage growth across the board,” she said.
“We should not accept increased inequality as an inevitable byproduct of growth.”
Income inequality has stayed roughly the same since the global financial crisis, but the report warns “inconsistent social security policies” like freezing Newstart payments and indexing pensions to earnings, compound “a long-term trend towards greater inequality in hourly wage rates, and growing inequality in the distribution of wealth”.
She said these factors are “likely to reassert themselves and increase inequality once stronger economic growth is restored”.
Household wealth is becoming even more concentrated on the rich end of the spectrum. Ms Goldie says this is due to “generous tax treatment for superannuation and a property boom”.