Research recently conducted by Oxfam shows that the wealth of the richest people in Australia is equivalent to 70% of the wealth of the rest of the population. On average, the super-rich increase their wealth by $2 million dollars a day, while ordinary people are lucky if they get a pay rise of a few dollars every year.
Worker’s wages are falling behind, while the number of billionaires has doubled since the financial crash in 2008. The gender pay gap is still prevalent, still favouring men in all professions.
As inequality increases, the number of people who have access to proper healthcare and childcare is in decline. Oxfam found that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women are at a particular disadvantage, with infant mortality rates increasing. Globally, around 10,000 people have lost their lives every day because they have not had access to proper healthcare.
While the average person’s income is $1160 a week, tax from workers’ pay is the main source of tax revenue, with the wealthy only contributing 4% of the tax paid. A total of $7.6 trillion worth of tax is being withheld by big business in various offshore accounts, while a third of all multinational companies are not paying any tax at all!
Oxfam has called on the government to hold the wealthy accountable, and to scrutinise their tax payments. They estimate that the tax forgone is the same amount that it would cost to cover a developing nation’s healthcare budget.
Australia’s rich have been getting richer for many years now. It is clear that far from offering any solutions, both the Liberals and Labor have helped to facilitate this process. The problems are systemic and linked to the profit-driven system of capitalism.
Only a system that democratically owns and controls society’s wealth could begin to distribute wealth in a more equal way. That’s why alongside fighting for increased taxes for the rich we need to fight for a socialist society that can put an end to poverty and hardship.
By Bella Singal