Oxfam highlights Forbes billionaire’s list showing ultra-rich wealth rocketed during Covid-19

Rebecca Le MayNCA NewsWire
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Camera IconNot Supplied Credit: Supplied

The wealth of Australia’s billionaires has surged at a staggering rate, Oxfam says, with the ultra-rich enjoying “a terrific pandemic” while others were dying from “economic violence”.

The charity issued a report on Monday estimating the nation’s 47 billionaires had doubled their wealth to $255bn at a rate of $2376 per second or more than $205 million a day during the first two years of the pandemic.

At the same time, the incomes of 99 per cent of humanity had fallen and more than 160 million people had been forced into poverty, Oxfam said.

“That equates to more wealth in the hands of 47 people than the poorest 30 per cent of Australians (7.7 million people),” it said.

The inequality was mirrored at a global level, Oxfam said, estimating the world’s ten richest people - all men - had more than doubled their fortunes to $1.9 trillion at a rate of $18,750 per second or $1.6 billion a day over the past two years.

“If those ten men were to lose 99.999 per cent of their wealth tomorrow, they would still be richer than 99 per cent of all the people on Earth,” it said.

“They now have six times more wealth than the world’s poorest 3.1 billion people.”

Oxfam said it used data from the 35th Forbes Billionaires List, topped by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and Tesla boss Elon Musk, which stated the number of people making that list last year exploded by 660 to an unprecedented 2755.

Camera IconMining heiress Gina Rinehart (pictured with Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk) has a net wealth of $31.06bn, according to the AFR. Richard Walker Credit: News Corp Australia

According to the latest AFR Rich List, Australia’s top 10 billionaires - led by West Australian mining magnates Gina Rinehart and Andrew “Twiggy” Forrest - have a combined net wealth of more than $177bn.

Oxfam chief executive Lyn Morgain said there was an urgent need “to address the obscene ramifications of inequality”.

“The record-breaking nature of the growth in their wealth means that while many have been pushed to the brink, billionaires have had a terrific pandemic,” Mr Morgain said.

“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.”

Andrew Forest
Camera IconThe AFR puts the nation’s second wealthiest person and another mining titan, Andrew Forrest, at $27.25bn. NCA NewsWire / David Swift Credit: News Corp Australia

Oxfam said the report showed “how extreme inequality is a form of economic violence, where policies and political decisions that perpetuate the wealth and power of the privileged few result in direct harm to the vast majority of people”.

“Inequality at such pace and scale is happening by choice, not chance,” Ms Morgain said.

“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.”

Originally published as Oxfam highlights Forbes billionaire’s list showing ultra-rich wealth rocketed during Covid-19

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