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Canberra is Australia's most income-equitable city despite inner-south riches

Canberra is Australia's most income-equitable city despite inner-south riches

29 February 2016 Henry Belot

Residents in Canberra's inner-southern suburbs earn up to $30,000 more than those in Belconnen and Tuggeranong on average each year, a national report says.

But the capital remained Australia's most equitable city in 2012-13, with the richest one per cent of wage earners claiming just 6.4 per cent of all income, the lowest rate in the country.

In Forrest, which remains Canberra's most-affluent suburb with a median income of $78,024 a year, the top one per cent of wage earners claimed just 11 per cent of the suburb's overall income.

This was half the percentage claimed by the richest one per cent in Sydney's more wealthy suburbs of Double Bay, Bellevue Hill, Rose Bay, Vaucluse and in the city's central business district.

The income disparity figures were detailed by the Australian Bureau of Statistics and revealed most wealth in Canberra was concentrated around the southern banks of Lake Burley Griffin.

The top-10 richest suburbs in Canberra included Forrest, Deakin, Kingston and Barton, Griffith and Yarralumla. The median incomes in those suburbs ranged from $66,000 to $78,000.

O'Malley was the best-performing suburb in Woden Valley: the median wage earner took home $70,868. In Gungahlin, the median Forde worker earned $70,316.

Acton recorded the lowest median income – $8871 – although 87.9 per cent of residents attended tertiary institutions.

Residents in Page, Hall, Belconnen and Charnwood all recorded incomes lower than $50,400, up to $30,000 less than those in Forrest or Deakin.

Belconnen and Tuggeranong were revealed as Canberra's poorer districts, with incomes of $55,259 and $57,993.

Woden and Weston Creek performed slightly better with median incomes of $59,000 per annum, while Gungahlin recorded $60,280.

The bureau noted tax-free income, including some income streams from superannuation, was excluded from its analysis. Pension and allowances were also excluded. The analysis was based on 2012-13 data.

The concentration of federal public service jobs in Canberra mean the ACT recorded the highest income contribution at $32,319 a year, which was more than double the average in greater Sydney at $14, 885.

Canberra's spread of income is a stark contrast to larger cities with the top one per cent of wage earners in Sydney's eastern suburbs claiming 17 per cent of overall income.

The top one per cent of earners in NSW claimed 10.5 per cent of the state's total income, followed by Victoria at 9.4 per cent and Western Australia at 8.7 per cent.

Research by Canberra MP and former ANU economics professor Andrew Leigh found the income share of the top one per cent has doubled while the share of the top 0.1 per has tripled over the past three decades.

His research aligns with data presented in the Australian Council of Social Service's inequality report, released last year, which found the top one per cent of earners captured more than 20 per cent of pre-tax income growth between 1975 and 2007.

"In 2012, average income for the 180,000 individuals in the top one per cent was $400,000 per annum while the minimum income of a person in the top one per cent was $211,000," the report said.

"There are also 18,000 people in the top 0.1 per cent, with an average income of $600,000."



4 February 2016