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Senate Inquiry examines income inequality in WA

Media Release
Rachel Siewert 11 Nov 2014

The Inquiry, chaired by WA Greens Senator Rachel Siewert, will hold public hearings in Rockingham today.

"The Inquiry has received clear evidence about the challenges presented by income inequality around Australia, and the submissions received from WA indicates that it is a problem here as well," Senator Siewert said today.

"The Curtin Economics Centre's recent report Sharing the Boom - The distribution of income and wealth in WA shows that income inequality has increased ‘significantly' over the period of the boom, and that while some households are benefiting, lower income households are not.

"WACOSS's submission to the inquiry shows that increases in the costs of essential items, such as rent, food and utilities have a disproportionate impact on lower income households, meaning more West Australians are missing out on secure accommodation, decent nutrition and the employment and education opportunities they need.

"We know that the impacts of inequality, including employment and education opportunities can seriously impact children and young people, increasing the risk of inter-generational poverty.

"In their evidence to the Inquiry, the Youth Affairs Council of WA has raised concerns over the Government's budget measures to deny income support to young jobseekers for six months or more, along with the ongoing inadequacy of the Newstart Allowance and Youth Allowance payments.

"Youth unemployment in WA is almost double that of the general population, and triple in some parts of the state, including Rockingham, where today's hearings are being held.

"The Committee will examine the impact of these changes on the ability of young West Australians to look for work or undertake the study or training they need. The Committee will also examine the possible increased burden these policies will place on our community services and emergency relief providers, who will be left to meet the demand if people are denied income support.

"Inequality is a critical social and economic issue. It impacts on peoples' access to opportunities in our community and as the IMF have pointed out, inequality impacts adversely on productivity

"The Committee will present our final report and recommendations to the Senate at the end of the month," Senator Siewert concluded.


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