No matter how impressive we feel our nation’s track record of growth has been, very few Australians feel that they personally have gained much. That’s the chief finding from a new report from the Committee for Economic Development of Australia based on a poll of almost 3000 people.
Meanwhile, the tax plans spruiked by government ministers at today’s CEDA State of the Nation conference are far from the priorities of the community — a community in which nearly eight in ten believe the gap between the richest and poorest Australians is unacceptable.
‘What has growth ever done for me?’ To most people connected to the running of Australia this question makes no sense. After all growth equals prosperity and Australia has had 26 years of uninterrupted growth.
Most Australians, on the other hand, feel that the big winners of this growth streak have been large corporations, senior executives, foreign shareholders, white collar workers and Australian shareholders. Routine economic analogies of rising tides and mutual elevation just isn’t swaying the 95% who feel they haven’t gained a lot from this near three-decade streak.
Who has gained from 26 years of economic growth?
- 5% of people believe they have personally gained a lot
- 44% of people did not feel like they had gained at all
- 11% didn’t know if they had gained
- Those outside capital cities were less likely to feel they had gained
- People over 50 were more likely to feel they had not gained at all
- 31% of people are finding it difficult to live on their current income
- 74% of people believe large corporations have gained a lot
- 79% of people believe the gap between the richest and poorest Australians is unacceptable
Personal factors for the Australia you want to live in
- Reliable, low cost basic health services
- Reliable, low cost essential services
- Access to stable and affordable housing
- Affordable, high quality chronic disease services
- Reduced violence in homes and communities
Policy priorities for Australia as a nation
- High quality and accessible public hospitals
- Strong regulation to limit foreign ownership of Australian land/assets
- High quality and choice of aged care services
- Increased pension payments
- Tough criminal laws and criminal sentences
These results show a disconnect “between the clear policy priorities of the community and the policies which have so dominated public policy debate recently” says CEDA chief executive Melinda Cilento.
“Economic development and reform are important for improving Australians’ quality of life, but if the community feel removed from the benefits or have lost trust that the benefits from growth will be broadly shared, then gaining traction on economic reform becomes more difficult.
“The poll results support this. Key issues around supporting business competitiveness, from reducing the company tax rate and red tape to supporting new industry ranked as least important for poll respondents.”
Job anxiety is high for those without security
With growing casualisation of work — including in public services — almost a third of the poll respondents said they would like to work more hours to earn more. Those with insecure work also had the lowest levels of job satisfaction.
New technology in the workplace was generally appreciated, with 71% welcoming it, and only 12% concerned it would replace them.
68% of people identify conditions in the workplace as very important when looking for a job.
Issues of least personal importance
- Access to exercise and recreation facilities
- Ability to move between jobs/sectors with ease
- Increased competition from new entrants in key consumer sectors
- Strong regulation of new technologies to protect people
- Reduced commuting times