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Bermuda bonanza points to growing divide.

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Wayne Swan MP Manager of Opposition Business Shadow Minister for Family and Community Services

Bermuda Bonanza Points to Growing Divide

Evidence of the widespread use of offshore havens to channel an estimated $5 billion to evade tax has underscored the growing divide between Australians.

The $5 billion channelled overseas is at least double the amount Australians donate to charities each year.

Twice as much cash is flowing to the offshore tax havens of the greedy than our nation’s most needy.

The surge in the use of tax havens is a worrying development for a country that has always prided itself in a fair go for all.

Australians struggling to get ahead could only dream about having an offshore account to deliver tax-free income.

Over 800,000 Australians lose more than 60% of their extra earnings after the Howard Government’s tax take and clawback of family and other benefits - almost a double the number in 1997.

Among them are 40% of Australians who have only seen an increase in their income of $20 a week or less from 1997 to 2000, while the top fifth saw their incomes rise by $220 a week over the same period.

Australia is fast becoming a more unequal place to live.

More children are being raised in poor and jobless families.

2.6 million Australians live in households surviving below the poverty line. One million of these are in households where not even work can lift them to a decent income.

Despite the mounting evidence the Howard Government chooses to ignore it.

Through its inaction it threatens the Australian ideal of a fair go.

ENDS Mon 06 Jan 03 Web:

Contact: Wayne Swan on 0418 795 329 Matt Linden on 0407 430 613

NB: A Senate Inquiry into financial hardship and poverty has been established - submissions can be made to: Senate Community Affairs Reference Committee, Parliament House, Canberra, ACT or via email (written submissions close 28 February 2003 - public hearings will be held thereafter.)