Former Treasurer Wayne Swan launches UN report at Coral Bell School

15 May 2015

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Former Treasurer Wayne Swan has spoken on the need to address income inequality in developing and developed countries in the region, at the launch of the UN Economic and Social Survey of Asia and the Pacific 2015 at ANU.

The report, which identifies the extent to which the Asia-Pacific region’s rapid economic growth over the past two decades has improved welfare for different groups, was launched at The Coral Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs on Thursday. 

It found eight ‘Millennium Development Goals’ aimed at halving world poverty by 31 December 2015 had mostly been achieved.

Set by 191 United Nations member countries in 2000, achievements included a seven fold increase in real income per capita in China since 1990. In Bhutan, Cambodia and Vietnam, figures had tripled.

The growth had helped lift millions of people out of extreme poverty, while reducing by half, the proportion of people whose income is less than $1 a day.

But overall, economic growth was tipped to rise only slightly, from 5.8 per cent in 2014 to 5.9 per cent in 2015.

Former Treasurer Wayne Swan spoke of the pressing need to address income inequality in both developing and developed countries in the region.

“We are all familiar with the data showing that across developed economies there has been a hollowing out of the middle class and increasing concentrations of wealth and income at the top,” he said.

He added investment in health and education should be seen as good for economic growth, not a ‘side social benefit.’

More than 70 people attended the launch, including ten ambassadors from the region.

Mr Swan was joined by Professor Mark McGillivray, from the Alfred Deakin Institute for Citizenship and Globalisation at Deakin University, and Susan Harris-Rimmer, an Australian Research Council future fellow at Asia Pacific College of Diplomacy.

To read a full copy of the report, click here

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