Sunrise host Samantha Armytage has agreed with Scott Morrison’s comments that people earning $180,000 a year aren’t “rich”, sparking backlash from some viewers.
The Prime Minister defended tax cuts for high income earners yesterday, suggesting FIFO workers earning $180,000 a year aren’t rich and deserve some tax relief for their hard work.
Armytage backed Mr Morrison’s claims today, saying earning that salary in some of Australia’s major cities wouldn’t be enough to make you wealthy.
“It depends where you live in Australia as to whether or not you are wealthy on that, in Sydney probably not,” she said during the program on Thursday morning.
“$180,000 sounds like a lot but there FIFO workers make huge sacrifices. They are often the sole income earner, (have) a couple of kids, a mortgage.”
Armytage is one of the highest paid TV hosts in Australia and reportedly earned about $500,000 last year.
Social commentator Jane Caro said “rich is a relative term” and for many Australians earning a $180k salary would be beyond their “greatest dreams”.
“It’s all relative. It very much depends on where you are standing when you look at that salary,” Ms Caro told Sunrise.
“The thing about these tax cuts is that they disproportionately favour higher earners and they also disproportionately therefore favour men.
“We know that this recession has hit women much harder than men. Women have lost more jobs, they’ve lost more hours of work, they are much more vulnerable to poverty in old age. We need to be doing something to help women and we are doing absolutely nothing.”
Some viewers weren’t impressed with Armytage’s opinion on what makes a person rich, with one blasting her as “out of touch”.
“The suggestion that FIFO workers work hard and make sacrifices somehow devalues so many others in the workforce who do the same in different ways,” another social media user said.
“Most Australians are living in poverty, with a median income of $60k. Except for overpaid people on TV,” one commenter wrote.
One added: “Interesting that the presenter claims that the poor man earning “only’’ $180pa might be the sole income earner at home … he wouldn’t have to be if women had better chances of even getting a job.”
The debate around how much you have to earn to be considered wealthy fired up on Wednesday after Mr Morrison was asked to nominate “what’s rich?” during a press conference following a question about tax cuts for high income earners.
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It came after Opposition leader Anthony Albanese hinted Labor could scrap the tax cuts for the rich if they win the next election.
“I don’t know what the Labor Party thinks a high income is, but I can tell you we’re standing here in Rockhampton and I remember when Bill Shorten went to the last election, he went up to Gladstone and he talked to people up there and he wouldn’t tell them the truth,” Mr Morrison said.
“And, you know, he was talking about people who work in the heavy industry sectors of this country. It’s hard work, you’re away from your families. It’s fly in and it’s fly out. And you do earn a bit more when you’re doing that.
“But I tell you what, you put a bit of it away, too. And I don’t think they should be penalised and treated like they’re some merchant banker in Sydney. They’re not, they’re hardworking people working out on mines and difficult parts of the country. I think they deserve a tax cut.”
Any worker earning $180,000 a year was “doing pretty well”, according to Australian National University associate professor Ben Phillips.
“The average income for a worker is around $85,000. The median would be more like $60,000. If you’re earning $180,000 you’re in the top 4 per cent of incomes or thereabouts,” he told news.com.au.
“Household income is a little different. It’s more around $100,000 on average but the median would be lower.”