INEQUALITY is increasing rapidly in Australia. The benefits of economic growth are going disproportionately to the already rich and super rich, and equality of opportunity is under growing threat. This is not only unfair, it also poses dangers to community wellbeing, health, social stability, sustainable growth and long-term prosperity.
This situation demands remedial action, and multiple levers for remedial action are available. However, until the Australian community understands what is happening and what is at stake, neither they nor their elected representatives in government will move to act.
It is true that taking action will require additional government revenue to support initiatives aimed at restoring equality of opportunity. But at a time when Australian governments are crying poor, they are also providing massive tax exemptions to the rich and running one of the lowest taxing economies in the world. These facts need to be more widely understood if things are to change. What is needed now is the social and political will to take action.
- Promote a national conversation about inequality, its effects, and ways of dealing with it.
- Increase the fairness and adequacy of government revenue raising through taxation reforms.
- Implement fairer funding reforms for schools.
- Invest nationally in early childhood development, especially for disadvantaged groups.
- Set all pensions and benefits no lower than the poverty line and Index them to average wages.
- Establish more job creation programs in priority area.
- Develop new models of employee management and cooperative ownership of business.
- Implement the World Health Organisation recommendations on the social determinants of health.
- Encourage an inquiry by the Productivity Commission into the impact of inequality on economic efficiency and growth.
- Establish a national research program to monitor progress and test the impact of interventions aimed at reducing inequality.
IN JUNE 2018 Australia21 is partnering with The Australia Institute to hold a Roundtable at Parliament House in Canberra to discuss the theme ‘The Economy, Inequality and Sustainability: Are our policy settings fit for purpose?’ It will be co-hosted by the Hon Wayne Swan MP, former Deputy Prime Minister and Treasurer, and Australia21’s Emeritus Professor Bob Douglas. Forty experts from across the disciplinary, social, political and ideological spectrum will address key questions about the impacts of inequality and the appropriateness of our nation’s current economic model. Following the Roundtable, the Australia21 project team will draft a report, including recommendations, for public release in the lead-up to the next federal election.
IN MAY 2018 Australia21 analysed the Federal Budget in order to unpack the policy decisions and messages they conveyed. The analysis addressed: reducing inequality, enhancing the nation’s resilience, meaningful action on climate change, preparing the nation to be competitive in the 21st Century, tackling underlying causes of problems, the need for greater transparency, and the looming election.
IN MARCH 2018 Australia21 released a roadmap outlining 5 ways our MPs could deliver better policy over the year. Number One on the list was addressing inequality: we urged politicians to take it up as a central issue in the forthcoming national election.
IN DECEMBER 2017 the final Board meeting of the year firmly placed inequality on Australia21’s agenda for 2018, including the impact of gender inequality and the importance of investment in early childhood education to addressing inequality.
IN 2016-2017 our annual report set out a plan for future projects, including a Roundtable on inequality addressing the case for and against a new economic model in Australia (being held in June 2018) and a Roundtable on the inter-relationship between drug use and social disadvantage (held in March 2018).
IN NOVEMBER 2014 Australia21 launched a free mobile app to raise awareness and encourage conversations about inequality, allowing users to read reports, discussion papers, recommendations and view videos, infographics and quotes.
IN JUNE 2014 Australia21 in partnership with ANU and The Australia Institute released a report at Parliament House in Canberra, Advance Australia Fair? What to do about growing inequality in Australia, based on our Inequality Roundtable.
IN JANUARY 2014 Australia21 held an Inequality Roundtable in Canberra, in partnership with The Australia Institute, bringing together 35 senior government officials (including five parliamentarians), non-government organisations, academics, community leaders and stakeholders.
IN DECEMBER 2013 Australia21 released a discussion paper ‘Unfair economic arrangements make us sick. How should Australia respond to the expanding financial inequalities among its citizens?’ commissioned from Professor Sharon Friel (and Richard Denniss) as background material for our Inequality Roundtable.
http://theconversation.com/increasing-inequality-brings-high-social-cost-report-27867 (by John Hewson, who launched our 2014 Inequality report)