Labour History

Economic Wealth and Political Power in Australia, 1788-2010

Labour History (2012), 103, (1), 1–16.


Although Australia is sometimes regarded as an egalitarian society, evidence shows that inequalities in the distribution of wealth are pronounced. We note in the historiography of this economic inequality that it has it featured so little in Australian social history. Our argument is that economic historians should detail the relationship between economic wealth and political power within Australia to tease out the implications of inequality over the ability of the Australian state to govern from the beginning of European settlement. Drawing on various sources of data, we examine who the wealthy are and how they generate, accumulate and maintain their wealth to provide an insight into the political power associated with economic wealth.

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Author details

Murray, Georgina

Chesters, Jenny