Vinnies says Senator Patterson is "in denial"

The St Vincent de Paul Society has reacted to Family and Community Services Minister Kay Patterson's denial of its research paper claims about the growing gap between rich and poor, by saying that she is "in denial", and responding in a "mischievous" manner.

The paper - The Reality of Income Inequality in Australia - was released on Monday. It showed that from 1994 to 2003, real mean incomes for the poorest Australians grew at a slower rate than those on higher incomes.

Senator Patterson's response, also released on Monday, said that Vinnies' paper "has confused measures of inequality with real standards of living". It added that the paper "failed to take account of improved incentives for low-income households to improve their standard of living".

Yesterday's statement from Vinnies asserted that Senator Patterson did not appear to have read the paper.

"Her response is mischievous," it said. "Contrary to her assertion, there is no confusion in our mind between income inequality and living standards. We refer specifically to income inequality in our Paper. We assume that she agrees that there is income inequality in Australia and that it is growing.

"She appears, however, unable to accept it. She diverts the debate to living standards and employment levels in order to deny the magnitude of this problem. To admit that there is a problem is to admit that something must be done about it

The Society reiterated its finding that inequality in living standards is even worse than income inequality in Australia.

"Income is only one aspect of deprivation. As we say in our Paper, other areas such as health, education, housing and the like are central to any strategy for addressing inequality and deprivation and that such a strategy is impossible without real co-operation between the Commonwealth and the States. Around 4.5 million Australians are in households on less than $400 a week. Can anyone seriously assert that their living standards are rising?"

Senator Patterson is in Denial (St Vincent de Paul Society 2/6/05)
Government rejects St Vincent de Paul Society report (Senator the Hon Kay Patterson 30/5/05)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
St Vincent de Paul Society | text of paper

Vinnies says poor are losing (CathNews 30/5/05)

2 Jun 2005