Inequality, Tax and Welfare - 28 Mar 2019

A lecture by Prof. Miranda Stewart in discussion with Prof. Roger Wilkins and Dr Troy Henderson.

'Talking About Economic Inequality' Lecture Series

Inequality, Tax and Welfare

28th March 2019, 6-7:30pm

Presented by Miranda Stewart (left) in discussion with Roger Wilkins (middle) and Troy Henderson (right)

About the Event

Is income and wealth inequality on the rise in Australia, and, if so, is this a problem? Certainly, our progressive taxation system and our social security and transfer systems have achieved a significant reduction in inequality of disposable income for Australian households. But if inequality is rising is it time for a re-think? Can we do better?

Prof. Miranda Stewart was in conversation with Prof. Roger Wilkins and Dr. Troy Henderson. They examined the evidence and considered our current tax and welfare policy settings. Australia's progressive income tax has been very effective in raising and enabling redistribution over the last century. But it may not tax capital income and savings enough and avoids taxing wealth or inheritance.

Alongside this, our social security system is highly targeted, but tight income tests and conditions mean many low income people slip through the net. Only half of families with children receive financial support, a steep decline since the 1980s. Could more universal benefits, or even a universal basic income, be a better way to go?

Prof. Miranda Stewart is a leading authority on tax policy and the Director of Tax Studies at the Melbourne Law School.

Prof. Roger Wilkins is Professor at the Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research and a leading authority on inequality data in Australia.

Dr Troy Henderson is an economist with an interest in the future of work and in Basic Income as a policy option for Australia.

Download the lecture slides

About the Lecture Series

The Melbourne School of Government is hosting this series of public lectures and engaged conversations on the issue of economic inequality. Prominent invited speakers, from academia and beyond, will look at various dimensions of the question of economic inequality. Is economic inequality increasing and, if so, with what political, environmental and social effects? Does inequality matter if the economic pie is growing? Does it matter how much executives are paid? What is the link between inequality and our tax and welfare system? Is the changing world of work and changing technology increasing inequality or is it inequality-neutral? Are we seeing the re-emergence of class politics or are other forms of division more evident, say between young and old or between ‘rootless’ elites and the rest? These are some of the questions informing this series.