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Global financial crisis becomes economic leveller

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Peter Martin, Tim Colebatch

Australia is a more equal society than it was, and the global financial crisis can take the credit.

New Tax Office data shows a sharp slowdown in income growth in Australia's wealthiest suburbs, offset by rapidly climbing incomes in Australia's poorest postcodes.

In NSW, the postcodes of Point Piper, Edgecliff, Dover Heights, Northbridge and Mosman continue to report the highest taxable incomes. But the average incomes are little changed between 2006-07 and 2009-10, the two years that bookend the financial crisis.

The average in Edgecliff and surrounding suburbs fell 6 per cent to $182,200. The average in Northbridge and surrounds climbed 7 per cent to $155,100.

Postcode 2110 housing Hunters Hill is an exception. Reported incomes there soared 25 per cent to $164,200, pushing it up from eighth to second place.

By contrast the five poorest postcodes all did well. Encompassing small communities near Armidale, Cowra, Inverell and Condobolin, they grew in average incomes of between 10 and 19 per cent.

Assisting the poorest postcodes were the substantial pension increases in the 2009 budget. Holding back the richest postcodes was the collapse in share market prices during the crisis.

The data shows ACT's wealthiest suburbs are Forrest, Griffith, Manuka and Red Hill. In 2009-10 they had the highest average taxable income, which was just over $100,650 - up more than $3500 on the previous year.

More than 4500 people in Barton, Deakin and Yarralumla had average taxable incomes of just over $93,200. The postcodes of Curtin, Garran and Hughes reported average taxable incomes of more than $79,000.

Some of Canberra's poorest postcodes encompassed communities in Charnwood, Bonython and Gungahlin. Those suburbs with a postcode of 2615 reported the lowest average taxable income of $59,117.

Surgeons remained the highest paid professionals in 2009-10, reporting average taxable incomes that year of $332,800.

Apprentice hairdressers were among the lowest-paid, collecting $22,700. Primary school teachers are moving up the scale, earning $57,420, somewhat more than plumbers on $56,615.

Barmen and baristas, although enjoying high social status, earn less than cleaners, taking home $30,169 compared with $33,204.

Journalists are doing surprisingly well, taking home more than the average professional sports player - an average of $66,427 compared with $63,146.

A record 1.7 million Australians were landlords in 2009-10.

This represents one in seven of Australia's 12.4 million personal taxpayers.

Almost two-thirds were negatively geared. A total of $4.8 billion was lost renting out properties in 2009-10, an improvement on the $6.5 billion lost in 2008-09.

The end of the financial crisis appeared to make Australians more generous. They gave $2.3 billion to charities in 2009-10, up from $2 billion.

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