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The (Really) Lucky Country: winning the fairness debate

Michael Gordon comments in the Brisbane Times (2.6.17) on Australia’s long-lasting record of economic growth, and what this has meant in terms of fair and equitable benefits from a strong national economy. This forms part of a series of articles in the Fairfax press highlighting Australia’s record run of economic growth figures.

‘History will be made next week when Australia matches the Netherlands as the country with the longest run of uninterrupted economic growth, but it won’t be cause for celebration at most of the nation’s dinner tables.

‘Social researcher Hugh Mackay predicts the news will either infuriate or bewilder those in the bottom half of the economic heap. Their take-out will be that, if they’re struggling, the chief beneficiaries of the Lucky Country must be those at the very top.

‘”Politicians and some others can brag about it because it is better than the alternative, but it simply raises the question of what are we doing socially to match the economic growth,” says Mackay.

‘”All the talk about unprecedented prosperity coexists with a wider gap than ever in our history between wealthy households and poor households and a sense that the middle class, which was always the symbol of egalitarian Australia, is shrinking – with people moving up and down.”

‘This might explain why Bill Shorten seemed to be losing the fairness debate in the national Parliament, one month on from Malcolm Turnbull’s budget reset, but winning it in the electorate – especially among those who feel they have missed out.’

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