According to the Committee for Economic Development of Australia’s (CEDA) latest report, only 5 per cent of Australians consider themselves to have personally gained a lot from the last 26 years of economic growth.
At the same time, 44 per cent think they’ve gained nothing from the last 26 years’ growth, with those aged over 50 most likely to feel they haven’t gained anything.
“A decade of stagnant incomes and cost of living pressures in areas like health and electricity are contributing to this feeling but waning trust in business and politics are also likely factors,” CEDA chief executive Melinda Cilento said.
“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.”
She said Australia will need to better attach aspirations and expectations with business activities in order to improve future economic opportunities. Additionally, economic reforms and improved delivery of government services will help meet community expectations.
“The expectation that government should provide the services fundamental to the quality of life in Australia remains strong,” Ms Cilento said.
“Over recent decades there has been a narrative that growth equals prosperity but the results suggest that many Australians do not feel like they are getting ahead.”
Poll respondents listed cutting the company tax rate and red tape as the least important national issues, along with a strong private school system, increased humanitarian intake of refugees and less restrictions on the use of natural resources.
However, speaking at the CEDA State of the Nation Conference on Sunday, Treasurer Scott Morrison said Australia’s current company tax rate is stifling growth and a reduction would benefit 90 per cent of private sector workers.
He said high taxes on both companies and individuals are the greatest impediments to growth.
“Our tax system must reward effort. It must support working Australians who are trying to get ahead. It must not penalise those who do better, get a pay rise or work more hours, by asking them to pay ever-increasing rates of tax,” Mr Morrison said.
“Our tax system must encourage our businesses to grow, invest, hire more Australians and pay them more. It must support them to compete on fairer terms with their global competitors. It must not leave them uncompetitive in a global marketplace that embraced lower company tax rates long ago.”
According to the CEDA report, How Unequal? Insights on inequality, 79 per cent of Australians consider the gap between the richest and poorest a 'not very acceptable' or 'not acceptable at all' consequence of economic growth.
“These results underline the challenge of addressing expectations of a fairer distribution of the proceeds of economic growth without creating disincentives for economic participation and entrepreneurial activity,” CEDA said.