Ever since the federal government’s controversial 2014 budget, inequality has been a central theme of Australian political debate. Concern has also intensified internationally, with agencies including the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank and the International Monetary Fund conducting research and making recommendations. In 2015 the OECD established a Centre for Opportunity and Equality to delve into the causes and consequences of inequalities and generate discussion about policy options.
But not everyone agrees we need to be worried. In March, at the annual dinner of the Sydney Institute, former prime minister John Howard argued that the Labor Party and the union movement were “perpetuating an election myth over inequality” to justify a “tax grab.” “Australia still has the strongest and wealthiest middle class in the world,” he went on. “One of the things that hasn’t fundamentally altered is that we are still a very middle-class society… We are still the biggest middle class (per capita) in the world and people aspire to the middle class.”
SOURCE: Peter Whiteford. “A rising tide that hasn’t lifted all boats” Inside Story, 31 May 2019.
Produced by the librarians at the Brotherhood of St Laurence in Melbourne, Australia