Nearly 10 percent of Australians are living in poverty despite a booming economy, a major new study published Thursday said, but its findings were disputed by Prime Minister John Howard.
The report by the Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS) found that Australia lagged behind most other Western countries, and said authorities at federal and state level should do more to spread economic prosperity.
But Howard, whose government could be replaced in a general election later this year, said Australia's low unemployment rate was evidence poverty was not rising.
"I have difficulty with their measurements of poverty. It is logic that if there are fewer people out of work there must be less poverty — the greatest driver of poverty is people without jobs," he said.
The report compared Australia to other developed countries in 10 key areas such as education, health and housing.
Using an international standard, it said the proportion of Australians who live in poverty rose from 7.6 percent of the population in 1994 to 9.9 percent — equivalent to nearly two million people — in 2004.
It noted that on a UN human poverty scale, Australia is ranked 14th out of 18 for countries in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
"There are too many areas where Australia is falling behind other OECD nations," ACOSS president Lin Hatfield Dobbs said. "Governments need to ensure the benefits of the economic prosperity are shared with all Australians."
Howard, who has been in power for more than 11 years, acknowledged there were still people struggling below the poverty line.
"I don't pretend for a moment that there isn't more that can be done, but it's just altogether too glib for people to say "oh well, poverty keeps rising despite the prosperity of the country'," he added.
Last Mod: 30 Ağustos 2007, 13:25