Australia’s billionaires doubled their wealth during the pandemic

Ciaran O’Mahony

While many Australians felt the financial sting of Covid-19 restrictions for the past two years, the collective wealth of our billionaires has doubled.

An Oxfam report has found that although 99% of the global population’s income fell during the (ongoing) pandemic, Forty-seven Australian billionaires increased their combined net worth to $255 Billion.

The Billionaire Club, which includes Gina Rinehart, James Packer and Clive Palmer, made $205 Million a day over the last two years, becoming wealthier than the poorest 30% of Australia’s (combined) in the process.

Mining mangnate, Gina Rinehart. Photo: Matt King via Getty Images

Oxfam Chief Executive Lyn Morgan says this “record-breaking growth”, in the midst of significant hardship for many Australians, should serve as a wake up call.

“While many have been pushed to the brink, billionaires have had a terrific pandemic,” Ms Morgan says.

“Not only have our economic structures made us all less safe in this pandemic, they are actively enabling those who are already extremely rich and powerful to exploit this crisis for their own profit.”

These statistics are consistent with a global trend, as the world’s 10 richest men doubled their fortunes to $1.9 Trillion, according to the Inequality Kills report.

It was therefore, an extremely lucrative period for Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Warren Buffet, Bernard Arnault, Larry Ellison, Larry Page, Sergey Brin and Steve Ballmer.

Jeff Bezos is among the billionaires who increased their fortunes during the pandemic. Photo: Kevin Mazur via Getty Images

Across the globe, 2755 billionaires have seen a greater increase in their fortunes over the past two years than the previous fourteen.

All whilst 163 million people fell below the poverty line.

Their wealth has skyrocketed due to rising stock market prices as well as a reduction in individual corporate tax rates and workers’ wages.

Oxfam argues that this wealth gap amounts to economic violence, estimating that it directly contributes to at least 21,300 deaths per day – or one death every four seconds.

“Inequality at such pace and scale is happening by choice, not chance,” Morgan says.

“Central banks have pumped trillions of dollars into financial markets to save the economy, yet much of that has ended up lining the pockets of billionaires riding a stock market boom.”

Photo: Pamspix via Getty Images

Morgan called on countries around the world to increase tax rates for the rich and tackle major monopolies.

“Here in Australia, and globally, there is a shortage of the courage and imagination needed to break free from the failed, deadly straitjacket of broken economic systems.”

“It’s time for the Australian Government to take this issue seriously and take action to close the gap between the rich and poor.”

Oxfam has calculated that an annual $30 billion wealth tax would have a significant impact on global inequality.

“It could cover close to half the cost of achieving the World Health Organization’s mid-2022 vaccination goal for lower income countries, helping protect all people, including Australians, from further variants and preventing millions of people around the world being pushed into greater hardship and poverty,” Morgan says.

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