Lecture and book launch focus on growing economic inequality
Federal politician delivers 2015 Economic and Social Policy Public Lecture.
A former professor of economics turned Federal politician -- who penned the book ‘Battlers and Billionaires: The Story of Inequality in Australia’—yesterday (20 May) delivered the 2015 Economic and Social Policy Public Lecture at the University of Wollongong.
The Labor Member for Fraser in the ACT, the Hon. Dr Andrew Leigh, MP, who was formerly the Professor of Economics at the Australian National University, presented the public lecture entitled, ‘Why Should We Care About Inequality?’.
He highlighted that earnings have risen three times as fast for the top decile as the bottom decile.
The top 1 per cent share has doubled and the top 0.1 per cent share has tripled, Dr Leigh pointed out.
“The richest three Australians have more wealth than the poorest one million.”
But Dr Leigh posed the question: Does inequality matter? He discussed the economic arguments against inequality and evaluated the theories and empirical evidence.
“While some arguments against inequality do not hold up, there are good reasons to think that too much inequality may indeed be harmful,” he said.
According to figures released earlier this year, Australia’s gender pay gap is now at a two decade high, he said.
“Part of the reason for this is that many of the lowest paid occupations -- child care workers, hairdressers, cleaners, the majority are female. While many of the highest paid occupations - surgeons, financial dealers, the majority are male. As the pay gap between child care workers and surgeons rose, the gender pay gap rose too.”
“Recognising how economic inequality impedes gender equality is an important facet of address inequality in Australia. Inequality is becoming a central issue of our age.”
“Inequality matters for instrumental reasons but mostly for intrinsic ones. Put simply, most of us want a more egalitarian Australian than we have today. a richer conversation about inequality is not only in the interests of the disadvantaged but all Australians who want to maintain a fair society.”
- Read Dr Leigh's speech, Why should we care about inequality? - 2015 Economic and Social policy Lecture
Leigh visits IC
While in Wollongong, Dr Leigh visited the UOW Innovation Campus and iAccelerate.
Speaking to the Illawarra Mercury, Dr Leigh described the iAccelerate initiative as a great example of looking to the future and the delivery of new-age jobs.
“Facilities like this one are really pivotal to maintaining prosperity for Australia over the decades to come,” he said.
Read more: Pollies in visit to UOW Innovation Campus | Illawarra Mercury
BOOK LAUNCH: THE 1% AND THE REST OF US
Following the lecture, Dr Leigh helped to launch a book, ‘The 1% And The Rest Of Us’, by Dr Tim DiMuzio of UOW’s Faculty of Law, Humanities and the Arts.
Dr Tim DiMuzio at his book launch
The book explores what it means to be part of a socio-economic order presided over by the super-rich and their political servants. It incorporates provocative and original arguments about philanthropy, social wealth and the political role of the super-rich.
While the Occupy movement faces many strategic and organisational challenges, one of its major accomplishments has been to draw global attention to the massive disparity of income, wealth and privilege held by 1 per cent of the population in nations across the world, according to Dr DiMuzio.