Inequality in Australia has worsened since the publication of our first report on the matter in 2014. In light of this, Australia21 and The Australia Institute have produced a landmark report aptly titled ‘A Fair Go For All Australians: urgent action required’. New survey data has been released highlighting that the majority of Australians agree that our society has become more unequal over the last ten years and that the government should be doing more to alleviate the issue. ‘A Fair Go For All Australians’ outlines a path to a fairer future for our country.
The report is the result of a high-level roundtable conducted in Parliament House in Canberra, involving 32 experts including key social scientists, economists and politicians including former Labor Treasurer, Wayne Swan, and Greens Leader, Richard Di Natale. Coalition MPs declined our invitation to participate.
The report aims to offer “real world, practical policy solutions to the major structural difficulties that people in our society are facing,” says Paul Barratt AO, Chair of Australia21.
“The roundtable participants repeatedly drew attention to the inadequacy of the current economic model, its dependency on endless growth, its failure to engage with ecological and climate limits, and its assumption that unconstrained markets can respond to the need for the dignity and wellbeing of the whole population.”
Reducing the influence of corporate money in politics, implementing an Australian Charter of Human Rights and changing the way the Federal Cabinet considers legislation are just a few of the proposed reforms.
Read the report here: A Fair Go For All Australians Report
Some quotes from the report:
“It would be very easy to be overwhelmed with despair at the dreadful atrocities that plague the world and Australia. The human degradation of the natural environment, the systemic structural stratification of society and inequities in living conditions are contributing to despair and the egregious inequities in health that persist today.”
– Sharon Friel is Professor of Health Equity and Director of the School of Regulation and Global Governance at the Australian National University.
“Inequality is not some accident or inescapable by-product of our economic system. Inequality is built-in by our political system. It favours those with wealth through tax shelters and punishes those on low incomes through keeping wages low and social security payments below live-able incomes. We cannot hope to arrest the trend in economic inequality until we focus on the source.”
– Senator Richard Di Natale, a former general medical practitioner, was elected to the Australian Senate in the 2010 Federal election and has been Federal parliamentary leader of the Australian Greens since 2015.
“Educational inequality is one of the main contributors to the gap between the rich and the poor. Lower education achievement is correlated with lower living standards, lower future expected earnings, social exclusion, poorer health outcomes, and fewer opportunities for students to achieve their aspirations. Programs that identify school students who are struggling should also engage parents at home, in order to create an environment conducive to learning both at home and at school.”
– Jonathan Tjandra is a Tuckwell Scholar at the Australian National University and an Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.
The evidence shows that inequality is growing
“ ‘A Fair Go For All Australians’ presents evidence that Australian levels of income inequality are the fourth highest of 15 OECD countries (the USA, UK and Spain are worse). It also shows that Australian tax revenue as a proportion of GDP is well below the OECD average of 34%, and notes that a number of Scandinavian countries have a tax revenue to GDP ratio of more than 40%.” Paul Barratt said.
“It comes as no surprise that the community is disengaged and unimpressed by political efforts to ensure fairness — or, more accurately, the lack of effort to do so. A new narrative is needed to drive Australia’s future.”
Urgent action is required
The report includes twelve urgent actions, including:
- Develop a new Australian Charter of Human Rights, including access to food, shelter, clothing, health and education services
- Create an Office of The Evaluator General, to monitor and measure progress on economic inequality
- Require all cabinet submissions and legislation briefs to include ‘Inequality Impact’ statements
- Propose Uluru declaration to the people via a referendum
- Develop citizens’ juries or assemblies to consider the role of lobbyists and money in politics
The report, including the full list of urgent actions, is available for free download from A Fair Go For All Australians Report