The Wellbeing Party holds a vision of a just society in which every Australian is able to realise their full potential regardless of the circumstances they are born into. The greatest challenge to this vision is growing inequality.
Inequality weakens our community spirit by entrenching economic, social and spatial divisions. It threatens both the wellbeing of those at the bottom of the income and wealth scales and the future prosperity and wellbeing of our nation as a whole.
Australia has experienced over 20 years of economic growth but during that time the gap between the rich and the poor has increased drastically. Over the 25 years to 2010, real wages increased by 50% on average, but by 14% for those in the bottom 10%, compared with 72% for those in the top 10%. In 2015 A person in the top 20% income group receives around five times as much income as a person in the bottom 20%. A person in the top 20% wealth group has a staggering 70 times as much wealth as a person in the bottom 20%. A person in the top 20% receives around 2.5 times the wages and salary income of the middle 20%, and the middle 20% receives eight times the wage and salary income of the bottom 20%. Inequality in Australia is higher than the OECD average. (ACOSS)
This widening gap is of concern for multiple reasons. As in inequality grows, economic activity stagnates. Decreased access to resources in the middle and lower classes means decreases in the purchasing goods and services, the buying of houses and the starting of new businesses. Unemployment and unemployment rises and people are limited from expressing their potential as they lose their abilities to support their family and community and their involvement in the greater economy. These economic imbalances also lead to other imbalances such as declining physical and mental health for the poor.
The concentration of access to resources leads to greater power for a wealthy minority of vested interests. In recent decades the movement towards inequality has been exacerbated by ongoing tax concessions that favour the rich and decreases in the funding for social services and social security safety net.
Purely economic policy solutions are important. But it is also important to consider educational, health, and other causes that lead to inequality, disadvantage and poverty. Racial, gender and marriage equality and equality in human rights are all crucial issues that must be addressed.
Wellbeing Party economic policy advocacy:
- Ensuring every individual and organisation pays their fair share of tax: Calling for a crack-down on tax avoidance by multinational corporations and implementing the 'Buffett Rule' by closing tax loopholes for the super-wealthy
- The exploration of alternative tax regimes that close loopholes for the wealthy such as progressive inheritance and land taxes
- The reform of superannuation tax concessions that favour the wealthy
- Repealing the capital gains tax discount that mostly benefits the wealthy
- Impose a super profits tax on banks with inflated profits
- Introduce a 'Tobin Tax' on high frequency financial transactions in order raise fund for social services and to increase stability of financial markets
- Oppose expansion to the GST as this has the regressive effect of increasing income inequality
- Set all pensions and benefits no lower than the poverty line and index them to average wages
- Support for the recommendations of the Social Determinants of Health Alliance (http://socialdeterminants.org.au/) and the National Complex Needs Alliance (http://complexneeds.org.au/)
Broader wellbeing advocacy:
- Full support for the Gonski plan to give children across Australia access to the resources and opportunities they need to get a good education
- Investment in early childhood development, especially for disadvantaged groups
- Marriage equality and protecting LGBTIQ Australians from other discrimination
- Establishing a Federal Human Rights Act and Charter
- The decriminalisation of drug use, in particular the end of prosecution for drug users and increased services for prevention and harm reduction
- Closing the gap on indigenous health inequality and disadvantage and focus on education and other policies to reduce race-based discrimination