Both overall wealth and income inequality have worsened in Australia in recent decades, welfare advocacy group ACOSS warned. The problem has become so bad that one-tenth of the richest Aussies now hold almost half (45 per cent) of the entire nation’s wealth.
The richest fifth of Aussies increased their wealth by 28 per cent from 2004 to 2012, while the poorest fifth gained a measly three per cent, the report said. As a result, the richest people are now 70 times better off than the poorest.
A leading cause was unfair wage growth. From 1995 to 2012, the richest fifth increased their income by 2.3 per cent per year, the middle class by two per cent, and the poorest by 1.8 per cent. Tax concessions were reportedly another cause.
These incentives for real estate, share market and superannuation investments benefitted the richest the most, the report found. The richest fifth own 80 per cent of the nation’s shares and investment properties, and more than 60 per cent of funds in superannuation.
Australia’s level of wealth and wage equality has regressed so far that it is now below average among the world’s 33 other highly developed economies.