the rising tide .....
The gap between the rich and poor in Australia is growing and the most affluent are not paying enough tax, according to a survey by the Oxfam charity.
Concern about the burgeoning inequality in society has also resulted in the wealthiest Australians having too much influence, according to the report Still the Lucky Country?
The report cites a Forbes and Credit Suisse Global Wealth Databook study that found the wealthiest 1 per cent of Australians have more money than 60 per cent of the population.It found the nine richest people in Australia have a fortune that equates to the bottom 20 per cent of the country.
Of 1016 people surveyed, 79 per cent said the gap between the rich and poor had widened over the past 10 years; 76 per cent said the most affluent Australians don't pay enough tax; while 64 per cent said inequality was making Australia a worse place to live.
''Inequality threatens to further entrap poor and marginalised people and undermine efforts to tackle extreme poverty,'' the report, which will be released on Monday, says. ''By concentrating wealth and power in the hands of a few, inequality robs the poorest people of the support they need to improve their lives, and means that their voices go unheard.''
The report comes as the Greens called for a Senate inquiry into the federal government's treatment of young jobseekers, who they say face ''growing inequality'' under the government's new restrictions on welfare payments.
''The government is imposing what they call reasonable compliance requirements on young jobseekers, telling them to apply for 40 jobs a month and attend appointments with employment service providers, all while they're receiving no income support at all,'' Greens spokeswoman Senator Rachel Siewert said.
The Oxfam report is in contrast to comments made by Treasurer Joe Hockey last week as he defended the federal budget. ''I would argue the comments about inequality in Australia are largely misguided, both from a historical perspective, and from the perspective of the budget,'' he told the Sydney Institute in his speech A Budget for Opportunity.
But Oxfam Australia's chief executive Helen Szoke disagreed, saying: ''The Australia figures are quite staggering if you think that nine individuals have a net worth that is equivalent to the total 4.5 million people, or the bottom 20 cent of income workers - that's pretty stark,'' she said.