The issue of wealth and income inequality has become one of the greatest moral, economic and political issues of our time.
The “richest households” (10%) owns almost half Australia’s private wealth (about half of the wealth underpinned by property assets, stocks & business investment. Followed by, the ”comfortable middle households” (30%), leaving the “lowest households” (60%) who tend to be younger. Moreover, two thirds of investment income goes to the most affluent 20% of households. (The nation’s wealth and income ladder, ACOSS/UNSW 2017-18).
Our governments over the last 20-30 years, continue to focus on tax cuts and tax incentives for private sector activity which have been leading to a serious increase in both income and wealth inequality and the concentration of wealth in the hands of fewer and fewer people. There is something profoundly wrong and unfair that few individuals can make so much money especially during COVID-19 pandemic, while many Australians are working longer hours in more stressful working environment without substantial increase in their wages and while our health and education systems are struggling to cope with the enormous pressure and chaos inflicted by the pandemic. This reveals the worse side of inequalities in our society. We can’t keep giving huge tax breaks to big corporations who continue to shift profit and jobs overseas to avoid paying taxes, while many Australians families are struggling to pay their mortgages, feed and send their children to schools.
Australia has become more segregated and divided than ever before between the have and have not. Today, there is a new division in our society between those who have benefited enormously from the economic boom since the nineties, owning their homes whose values have increased enormously and have invested in properties. The working class, most of them are young, they are having a rough time, with decline in the work satisfaction, decrease in real wages, lack of job security, and decrease in savings. They have been burdened by student debts and enormous mortgage debts, and a lot have been priced out of the housing market and have no hope in getting a house any time soon.
All of these have exacerbated further tension, between the social classes and have made many Australians especially the young, anxious, frustrated, and angry. Unfortunately, our society nowadays measure of success and quality of life is based on wealth rather that life satisfaction, happiness, and sense of society.
Australia today has less volunteering, fewer community associations and less time with neighbours. Over the years successive government policies have failed to reduce these social and economic divisions in our society and we have lost “The Lucky Country” mojo that was the envy of the world.
The way to change these social divisions is by showing that we do care about the disadvantage members of the society not by degrading them but by giving them hope. We need dedicated and compassionate people who have shown that they put the interest of the community ahead of their personal ambitions to drive these changes. This I believe will help greatly in bridging the divide between Australians.
Our major political party’s attentions are mainly focused on the economy, interest rate, inflation, employment, and avoid upsetting the wealthy and big corporations. They are the ones who replace people with machines, sending jobs overseas, paying workers poorly with less job security, while rewarding the executives with enormous salaries. Our political system claims to protect the working-class, but no attention is given to the decline in quality of life, job satisfaction, the heavy burden of debts, and increase in work related stress, anxiety, and depression. We mainly hear our politicians near election time, pretending to listen to the needs of the community which is raging because of the total neglect by politicians, who give many promises that they fail to adhere.