he response to Bill Shorten’s move to make inequality front and centre of his re-election campaign has the highlighted how utterly stuck conservatives are in a pre-financial crisis mindset. Rather than address the issue that has been a clear concern of households during a period of flat real wages growth, the response has been to argue the problem doesn’t exist and that all we really need to do is reduce government spending, keep the minimum wage low and cut workers wages.
Bill Shorten’s speech on Friday in which he argued that inequality was “the biggest threat to our health as an economy and our cohesion as a society” certainly rustled the jimmies of the conservatives.
The treasurer, Scott Morrison, responded by clutching at the take put forward by the Australian and the Australian Financial Review on the weekend, that Shorten was overstating the problem of inequality and that it was “a lie” to say inequality had got worse.
As with all economic data, measurement is an issue. Roger Wilkins, the deputy director of the Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research on the weekend suggested that the ABS’s measure of income share and Gini coefficient (a measure of inequality) was unrealisable because the ABS had “changed its method of collecting this data”, a claim the ABS’s Dean Adams disputed