Report reveals, for the first time, extent of wealth inequality in Australia

 

Report reveals, for the first time, extent of wealth inequality in Australia

By
Mike Head

16 January 2017

A highly significant report, released last year, has made available, for the first time, official data that provides a detailed picture of the true extent of wealth inequality in Australia. Contrary to the long-cultivated myth of Australian egalitarianism, the data points to a widening wealth gap, making it one of the most unequal industrialised countries in the world.

Remarkably, no national census of wealth has been conducted in Australia since 1915—more than 100 years ago. Moreover, in recent years consecutive governments have slashed funding and jobs at the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), curtailing its capacity to present any meaningful socio-economic statistics.

Published last June, The Wealth of the Nation: Current Data on the Distribution of Wealth in Australia was quickly buried by the mass media, which was clearly disturbed by the implications of its findings. The report reveals that in recent years the ABS has actually provided the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) with more detailed wealth distribution statistics than those made available to the public.

In 2015 the OECD began to use the ABS data—in combination with the Melbourne Institute’s survey of household income and labour dynamics in Australia (HILDA), and research conducted by academics, such as Thomas Piketty—to compile a picture of the widening social gulf globally, including in Australia.

Utilising these calculations, and extrapolating them to 2016, The Wealth of the Nation report concludes that Australia is now most likely the fifth most unequal country of the 17 compared by the OECD Wealth Database in 2015. Australia trails behind the United States…

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