Inequality in Australia is high and growing. Recent analysis has shown that the top 1% of people have increased their share of the nation’s wealth to 23%, owning more than the bottom 70% of Australians. In our wealthiest areas, such as Point Piper, the global elite live in property more expensive than the most prestigious addresses in Saint-Tropez or Moscow, earning an average of close to $200,000 per year. In contrast residents of Bulyeroi and Rowena in far-northeast NSW earned an average of just $12,004. Our current growth in income inequality is among the highest in the world according to the IMF.
Unemployment has diverged widely across the country. In our once thriving manufacturing centres, the chance to gain fulfilling employment has been massively reduced. In the Adelaide suburb of Elizabeth, previously home to Holden manufacturing, nearly 1/3 of the workforce is unable to find work. Youth unemployment has increased to over 13% nationally but is as high as 67% in Outback Queensland.
Inequality of income and employment is also strongly correlated with other forms for inequality: In our poorest communities such as Central NT, life expectancy is a full decade less than the national average, and Indigenous communities are subjected to the arbitrary and punitive Community Development Programme. Regional inequality encompasses a complex and multifaceted set of issues. While recognising many other symptoms, causes and consequences of regional inequality, this submission will focus on the areas of:
- Deindustrialisation and changing work patterns
- Unemployment and underemployment
- Income and wealth inequality
- Employment and training schemes