Editors note:  The first two articles of this newsletter read together should cause us all to reflect deeply on how so many Australians have to struggle to put food on the table when we are the world’s richest people. As part of that reflection the following warning from the Word is relevant.  “You may say to yourself, “My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.”  But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your ancestors, as it is today. If you ever forget the Lord your God and follow other gods and worship and bow down to them, I testify against you today that you will surely be destroyed. Deuteronomy 8: 17/19  

Australians remain the richest people in the world, by one measure at least. The median wealth of adult Australians stands at $US219,505 ($233,504) – the highest level in the world, according to the Credit Suisse 2013 Global Wealth Report.  Median wealth is the midpoint between richest and poorest, meaning that 50 per cent of the population has more than $233,504, and 50 per cent less than that. By the measure of average wealth, Australians fall back to second with $US402,578 per person, ranking behind the Swiss who were the world’s richest on $US513,000.

Credit Suisse chief investment strategist, Australia, David McDonald said the nation’s household wealth per adult grew by 2.6 per cent in the past year. That was slower than the global average of 4.6 per cent, but Australia still had the best distribution of wealth among developed nations. ‘‘Although we are up there at a high level of wealth per adult we’ve also got a better spread than a lot of the other developed countries including, obviously, the Swiss, but also places like the US,’’ Mr McDonald said. The number of Australian millionaires increased by 38,000 to 1.123 million people. The millionaire calculation includes the value of real estate owned outright.

Australians were shown to have a much higher level of wealth held in property and non-financial assets – 58.5 per cent compared to the world average of 45 per cent and just 38 per cent in the US. The US remains the millionaire capital of the world, with 13.2 million people topping the seven-figure mark and nearly 46,000 people in the ultra-high net worth $US50 million-plus category. Australia has 2,059 ultra-high net worth individuals, 2.1 per cent of the global total. While the Land Down Under has maintained its place at the top in median terms for three years running now, Credit Suisse reported that North America has regained its title as the wealthiest region in the world.

Rising house prices and stock markets fuelled a 12 per cent rise in North American wealth to $US78.9 trillion from mid-2012 to mid-2013, putting the region ahead of the Asia Pacific and Europe for the first time since before the global financial crisis. Credit Suisse global head of research for private banking, Giles Keating, said Japan’s economic slump had dragged down the Asia-Pacific region. ‘‘The fourth annual Credit Suisse Global Wealth Report shows an $US11 trillion rise in (global) wealth to $US241 trillion, with the US as the clear winner, overtaking Europe, while Asia Pacific fell back due to sharp depreciation of the yen,’’ Mr Keating said.

Source: Compiled by APN from media reports



Demand for food aid has surged almost 10% in the past year, with the children of the working poor frequently going hungry, according to the nation’s leading food assistance charity. Foodbank’s second annual report was compiled from data provided by 966 Foodbank member organisations.  reveals that, despite an upswing in corporate donations, the charity still needs 65% more food donations to address the soaring demand. Services are also being strained by the former Labor government’s decisions to cut welfare benefits for single mothers, and release more than 10,000 asylum-seekers into the community on bridging visas without work rights. 

Uniting Care research shows Australia’s poverty rate has increased since 2001 from 10.2% to 11.8%. Almost half a million are under 15.The research also shows the poverty rate for single parent families is nearly 20% – double that of the poverty rate for couples with dependent children. Those out of work but searching for a job are also struggling. Uniting Care says poverty rates have increased to 70% in families where there is an unemployed person and no one else working and has called for at least a $50 a week rise in the Newstart Allowance. The current level of Newstart Allowance ranges from $501 a fortnight for singles to $542 for single parents. 

Foodbank chairman Enzo Allara said two million Australians were struggling to put food on their tables, an “alarming” 9% increase since last year. “As a result, tens of thousands of people in crisis each month are being turned away, unable to be helped, unable to obtain the food to feed their desperate families,” Mr Allara said. “Those seeking food are generally low-income people who have experienced an unexpected, costly event that’s caused them to seek out help. Although food aid is commonly associated with hot meals and soup kitchens for the homeless, Foodbank reported the greatest demand was for breakfast cereal, fruit and vegetables, bread and meat. 

Since Enmore’s Church of the Nazarene in Sydney opened its weekly “food shed” in July, demand has exponentially increased, with up to 60 people being served each Friday. Among them is part-pensioner Paul Olislagers who worked full-time as a public servant before he was made redundant in 1998 and later became a full-time carer for his sick mother. He has now been diagnosed with prostate cancer. “When I worked full-time I never thought I’d be the sort of person who would need food aid,” said Mr Olislagers. “In those days I had money. “Here I can get some basic meals, bangers and mash, that sort of thing. “I hope I will get back to full-time work. This is all temporary, I hope. I trust. 

Sally Pennell, who with husband Caine Pennell leads the Enmore congregation, criticised Canberra for stripping asylum-seekers of their work rights and cutting benefits for single mothers. “I don’t think the government puts a lot of thought into the repercussions of making these decisions that hurt people who are just trying to make a new start,” she said. “It’s a decision between charity or crime. What’s the choice?” Foodbank agencies help 473,000 people a month, 35 per cent of whom are children. One-quarter of agencies reported increased demand since last year.

Source: Compiled by APN from media reports



The NSW upper house has narrowly voted down a bill to legalise same-sex marriage by 21 votes to 19.  Christian Democratic Party MP the Rev Fred Nile said the outcome was ”a great victory for marriage”. Mr Nile said he believed a decisive factor in the bill’s defeat was Premier Barry O’Farrell’s announcement that he would vote against the bill if it came before the lower house. in a statement released the night before the bill’s introduction to the upper house, Mr O’Farrell said that while he was a supporter of marriage equality, he would not support the NSW legislation. He argued that “only change enacted by the Federal Parliament can deliver true equality in our marriage laws”.

After the vote, Mr Nile revealed he had urged Mr O’Farrell to make the statement. ”It certainly had an effect on some Coalition members and that was the reason I asked him to issue the statement,” he said. ”It was important for the Premier to make a stand, indicate where he stood on this issue. He was a bit reluctant, but he finally agreed to make that public statement. And it did have the effect I was hoping it would have on some of the wavering members of the Coalition.”  Liberals Catherine Cusack and Greg Pearce and Nationals Sarah Mitchell and Trevor Khan supported the bill.

The Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) welcomed defeat of the bill. ACL Managing Director Lyle Shelton said it was time for state parliaments to stop using parliamentary time to debate a federal issue. “This is the ninth bill introduced by advocates seeking to redefine marriage in an Australian Parliament since 2010. They have used up much parliamentary time and the issue has had a fair go,” he said. “Marriage is a federal issue and the nation decided back in the 1960s to have uniform marriage law.” Mr Shelton said it was time to move on from the issue and urged same-sex marriage advocates to let state and federal parliaments focus on governing for the common good.

Source: Compiled by APN from information supplied by various sources