Australia’s billionaires celebrate a “wealth boom”
29 May 2017
The ever-widening social gulf in Australia was put on display by last week’s publication of this year’s Australian Financial Review (AFR) Rich 200 List.
Under conditions where millions of people are experiencing falling wages, worsening under-employment and deepening budget cuts to social spending, the publication proclaimed: “Australia is in the middle of a wealth boom.”
From a handful of billionaires before the 2008 global financial breakdown, the country now has 60. Summing up its estimates, which are from 2016, the newspaper boasted: “The top 10 wealthiest Australians are worth about $75 billion alone, while the average wealth for the 200 list members is a whopping $1.16 billion.”
The accumulation of fortunes at the expense of the vast majority of the population sped up during the year. The total wealth of the list mushroomed from $197.3 billion to $233.1 billion—a rise of about 18 percent—while average real wages fell. Every month, the super-rich collectively amassed another $3 billion, or $100 million per day.
This marks an intensification of a three-decade process. Since 1984, when the Rich List was first published during the first year of the Hawke Labor government, the total holdings of those on the list has increased more than tenfold, from $20 billion.
For those at the top of the list, the rise has been even more spectacular. Property developer Harry Triguboff, the country’s biggest apartment builder, has increased his fortune since 1984 from $25 million to $11.45 billion—a 485-fold bonanza.
These results are part of an accelerating global social polarisation. According to an Oxfam report earlier this year, the world’s eight richest people now collectively…