Archives for posts with tag: inequality

The American middle class is no longer the world’s richest, according to a feature at the new NYT wonk blog, The Upshot. The feature compares American incomes to those of other advanced economies, and shows that people in the bottom half of the income distribution have fared better in Canada and the Netherlands than in the US over the past few decades. It’s a really interesting feature, but the first question that came to my mind was: what about Australia?

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I have a new comment piece in Guardian Australia. I argue that the large personal income tax cuts of the mid-2000s were a big factor in creating the structural deficit, and that any attempt to wind back this deficit should start with those tax cuts. At the very least, bracket creep should be allowed to do its thing. Please read it!

I appeared on a panel about a month ago at the Progressive Australia conference in Sydney, organised by the Chifley Research Centre. Although this wasn’t a stand-alone presentation (I was speaking in response to a keynote speech by Patrick Diamond), I thought my slides might be of interest.

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My previous post summarised the findings of a recent paper published in Agenda about the extent to which the Australian welfare state is biased towards older households. Peter Whiteford from ANU left an important comment:

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Over the past thirty or so years, the Australian welfare state has become tilted much more heavily in favour of the elderly, away from people of working age. That’s the finding of a paper in the latest edition of Agendaan ANU public policy journal.

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Peter Martin has an interesting piece regarding the Commission of Audit in today’s Fairfax papers. He looks back at the 1996 Commission of Audit to draw some lessons for the current Commission. He notes that the 1996 Commission recommended scaling back tax expenditures to businesses and high-income households, reducing politicians’ entitlements, and changing the model of school funding.

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Real NSA payment rate

When the Hawke Government came to power in March 1983, the unemployment benefit for a single adult was worth $192 in today’s dollars. By the time Labor left office in 1996, it had lifted the real (inflation-adjusted) benefit, renamed Newstart Allowance, to $245 a week. Over the course of those 13 years in office, the Hawke and Keating Governments raised the real value of the unemployment benefit by $53 per week, a 27.4% rise. Contrary to the recollections of some, increases in unemployment benefits were part of the “Keating model”.

Since Keating left office, the unemployed haven’t fared as well.  It’s worth $252.70 a week now, including the Clean Energy Supplement, a $7.70 or 3.2% increase over 17 years.

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I delivered a short presentation recently at an event organised by Victorian Progress on the topic ‘Middle class welfare: What’s all the fuss about’. I spoke alongside David Hetherington of Per Capita and John Roskam of the IPA, and we were introduced by John Brumby. I don’t think it was recorded, and I didn’t read my remarks, but I thought I’d try and summarise my key points here, along with the slides I used on the night.

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