The idea that a Study of Social and Economic Inequalities (SSEI) should be undertaken in Australia was first proposed in 1988 by the then Minister for Social Security, Brian Howe. The main focus of the Study is to shed new light on various dimensions of inequality in Australia - both economic and social - and to investigate the factors causing them. The research involves the analysis of existing data rather than the collection of new data, a task which has been facilitated by the public availability of unit record and other data collected by the Australian Bureau of Statistics. By adopting an empirical approach, the study will inform the development of government policies directed at alleviating those forms of inequality requiring policy action. Some of the work is being conducted in an international comparative context, thus providing a framework in which we in Australia can learn from experience in other countries where appropriate. The five main themes of the Study are: Money Income Inequality, Poverty and Living Standards in Australia; Non-Monetary Benefits and Income Inequality; Factors Contributing to Inequalities in Monetary Income; Economic Inequality over the Family Life Cycle; and International Dimensions of Inequality and Redistribution. As Directors of the Study, one of our first tasks was to bring together researchers associated with the Study and with other organisations in Australia in order to review what is currently known about inequality in Australia. To this end, a two day Conference was held at the University of New South Wales in July 1991. This report contains some of the papers presented at that Conference, organised under the theme: ‘Government and Redistribution’. The other main theme ‘Some Factors Causing Inequality', is covered in SSEI Monograph No. 2. Together these reports represent an overview of the current state of knowledge and point to areas where further research is required. Some of that research will be conducted as part of the Study and will be reported on in due course.