According to data from Treasury itself, the
average Australian wage is just over $62,000 a year, with the median wage even
lower at just over $55,000. Figures from the Grattan Institute are even lower,
with the median tax-filers wage put at just under $45,000. While the $84,600
figure used by the Treasurer is not completely made up, it represents the
average full-time wage and not the average or median wage for all Australians.
According to the Australian Bureau of
Statistics (ABS), 68 percent of all workers are working full-time, with the
average wage being $1628 a week when overtime and penalty rates are included.
This number is dramatically reduced when part-time workers are included, and
reduced even more when the median is used instead of the average. While the
average simply divides the total income earned by the number of earners, the
median deals with extreme cases of wealth by attempting to find the person in
the middle of the distribution.
Personal wealth cannot be measured by
income alone, however, with data released by Credit Suisse also influenced by
real estate prices, equity market prices, and exchange rates just to name a
few. The high price of property in Australia compared to global averages is one
reason why it was listed so high by the investment bank. Other than the top
three nations of Iceland, Switzerland and Australia, the top ten nations in
terms of mean total wealth also included the United States, New Zealand,
Norway, Luxembourg, Denmark, Belgium, and the United Kingdom.
Despite high income and personal wealth
levels compared to many other countries, not everyone in Australia is in the
same boat. According to Oxfam Australia using figures from Credit Suisse,
wealth inequality is on the rise with the top 1 percent of Australians now
owning more than the bottom 70 percent combined. This is significant for a
country that prides itself on equality, with the difference between the amount
of wealth held by the top 1 percent and the bottom 50 percent now the greatest
it's been at any time over the last two decades.
According to Helen Szoke, Oxfam Australia’s
chief executive, we are witnessing “a broken economic system that is
concentrating more wealth in the hands of the rich and powerful... Over the
decade since the global financial crisis, the wealth of Australian billionaires
has increased by almost 140% to a total of $115.4bn last year. Yet over the
same time, the average wages of ordinary Australians have increased by just 36%
and average household wealth grew by 12%... While everyday Australians are
struggling more and more to get by, the wealthiest groups have grown richer and
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