Those of you who follow national politics and who watched last night's debate would have heard the opposition leader telling us, once again, that 'working families' are doing it tough and when John Howard says they've never been better off, it's just arrogance and out-of-touchness (he invented the word last night OK). Most of you will also know Kevin Rudd's always saying, "Can I just say something to Mr. Howard, let's put all the facts on the table". OK then Mr. Rudd, let us put all the facts on the table.
The Age - Offering support to Prime Minister John Howard's thesis that families have never been more prosperous, the left-leaning Australian Institute suggests typical middle-class families "are doing very well" — and has set out to prove the case. Defining a typical family as a couple household with children, the institute has used data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics and the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) survey to expose the true financial accounts of the great Australian middle class. The answer to whether the burden of paying mortgages is suffocating such families, for example, is an emphatic no.And I wonder which politician and which political party is constantly telling us how terrible things are and we're all eating from dumpsters. I wonder now, who's running the scare campaign, the mother of all negative campaigns. Maybe Kevin Rudd and his band of lemon-sucking leftists are talking about themselves and not 'working families' at all. Careful Mr. Rudd, no I'm not talking about your taste for ear wax, I'm talking about what you wish for, you might just get it. Spread the word folks.
The study defines "middle-class" households as those between the 30th and 80th percentiles of income earned; nearly two-thirds in this category did not have mortgages. Among those with mortgages, nearly 80 per cent of the loans were for less than $200,000 — and within this category half owed no more than $100,000. Among middle-class households, the median mortgage across Australia was $125,000; in Melbourne it was $146,000. Strikingly, only 8 per cent of middle-class households nationally were weighed down by mortgages of more than $200,000. "The usual rhetoric about 'mortgage stress' applies to only a small proportion of the population, yet we are given the impression that most people are experiencing financial hardship," said the institute's director, Clive Hamilton.
"The question arises: why is there such a gap between the healthy financial position of the Australian middle class and the levels of imagined hardship? One explanation is that middle-class households hear politicians telling them they are doing it tough — and they begin to believe it." In a further fillip for Mr Howard, the study confirmed that the incomes of all groups increased in the past 11 years of Coalition rule. The average real income of the middle class rose 27 per cent over the 11 years to 2005-06, and high-income households experienced an increase of 31 per cent. While income inequality in Australia increased "a little" over the past decade, low-income household incomes also rose by 33 per cent.