Demographer and social commentator Bernard Salt has argued that Australia’s approach towards high-income earners requires more nuance in order to promote financial success, celebrate business and in turn generate growth.
Speaking to Nest Egg at the FIIG High Yield conference in Sydney, he said he’s concerned about the “anti-business, anti-entrepreneurial sentiment in Australia”, and believes there needs to be more awareness of the “ethically rich”.
“The problem we have is that everyone who is a high income earner is lumped into the same bucket and I think we need to be more nuanced than this,” Mr Salt said.
In a keynote at the event, he said in order for Australia to capitalise on its potential there needs to be more engagement with difficult discussions.
“There are some uncomfortable discussions the Australian nation of people need to have. One is around allegiance, one is about our future, one is about entrepreneurship and one is about who actually delivers the tax, no issues paying it and a full and fair and open way,” Mr Salt said.
“I think there is such a thing as the ethically rich. There are people who say, yep that's fine, I'm happy to pay half, that's fine, but do I really have to cop flak as well?”
Why aren’t there more business-leaders nominated as Australian of the Year?
Thanks to Australia’s proximity to China, sheer breadth of land and adaptability of its citizens, Australia should be among the most prosperous nations for the next century at least, Mr Salt said.
However, there needs to be a “shift in the heartland” towards recognising the role of business.
“Why is it that we have not appointed an Australian of the Year from the business community in two generations for their ability to create wealth and prosperity for the Australian people?” Mr Salt asked.
“If this is because there is no one worthy from the business community then I say that is a damning indictment of the business community, but I actually think that there is,” he continued, pointing to the founder of Ramsay Healthcare Paul Ramsay.
Upon his death, Mr Ramsay bequeathed $3 billion to medical research and left a legacy of a multi-national company that employed 40,000 and met the needs of vulnerable citizens.
“That person was never identified as an Australian of the Year candidate. We need to shift the way we think,” Mr Salt said.