Australia’s rich and poor gap grows

Canberra, Sep 15 (IANS) The gap between Australia’s richest and poorest has grown by 13 percent over the past decade, according to a study released on Tuesday.

Australian households in the bottom 20 percent of incomes saw their disposable income grow by only 15 percent over the decade, compared with the top 20 percent of Australians which enjoyed 28 percent, Xinhua cited a report from the National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling (NATSEM) as showing.

The report was commissioned by the peak social advocacy association Anglicare Australia to examine living standards across Australia.

Australians will also have to get used to less income growth, with projects suggesting the top group can expect only 5.9 percent growth over the next decade. Australia’s middle class stayed flat — at best — and there was a projected 4.5 percent fall in living standards for the poor.

The difference in standards is primarily due to Tony Abbott government’s first two budgets that drastically cut social benefit payments.

“As Leonard Cohen sings, ‘everybody knows the fight is fixed, the poor stay poor and the rich get rich’. That is true of the past 10 years of vigorous growth,” Anglicare Australia’s executive director Kasy Chambers said.

“What this report tells us, however, is that the poor will not just stay poor. They are on track to get poorer.”

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