Sydney wages three times ours
WHILE residents of ritzy Mosman in Sydney’s North Shore have an average income of $130,000 a year, workers on the Northern Rivers are amongst the lowest paid in NSW.
Tenterfield has the lowest total average income in the whole of the state at $27,247.
This is closely followed by Kyogle at $29,182, Richmond Valley at $31,224; Byron Bay at $33,438 and Lismore at $34,461.
Of all of the local government areas on the Northern Rivers, people in Ballina earned the most, with an average income of $36,844.
But that is still about $12,000 less than the state average of $48,755.
These new figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics show people in this region are continuing to struggle because of the low wages and high costs of living, says Tony Davies, the Northern Rivers Social Development Council’s chief executive.
“The income gap nationally is getting wider,” he said.
“Incomes in our region are about 60-70% of the state average and often half or a third of the average Sydney wage.
“Traditionally our region has very high unemployment.
“In the past that has been offset by housing costs being a lot lower than in other areas.
“But in the last five or six years we have seen the cost of housing going up considerably – rents and the prices of homes.
“Also, people do face significant travel costs because we have to rely on private cars.
“So increasing fuel costs is another thing that has an impact.
“People’s disposal incomes – the money they use to have a good life in our region – have dropped.
“We have also seen downturns in key industries such as tourism.”
That’s the bad news.
But Mr Davies believes there are solutions to our incomes woes.
“There are roles for all three levels of government to support affordable housing developments and public housing,” he said.
“With transport, what we are going to see is that people will really suffer because we don’t yet have effective options.
“NRSDC has been advocating very strongly that the State Government urgently develops an integrated transport strategy to come up with a modern, best practice solution.
“There’s a young woman I know who was training to become a childcare worker.
“But she had to travel from Kyogle to Lismore every day, and it cost her $10 a day.
“When you don’t earn much, that is a lot of money.”
The development of the National Broadband Network is also important in bridging the gap between regional and metropolitan incomes, Mr Davies says.
“We have very skilled people in our region,” he said.
“Fast broadband will help us to look at how these people can access what used to be city-based jobs.”