They make up just 10 per cent of the Australian population, but they’ve got more cash to splash than the rest of the country combined.
Meet Australia’s elite class of moneyed few, who are bringing the growing chasm between the haves and have-nots into sharp focus.
Oxfam’s latest report on wealth inequality says Australia is part of a global trend that is seeing more and more wealth held by fewer and fewer people.
It shows 10 per cent of Australians now hold more wealth than the other 90 per cent put together.
The divide is even more stark when you look at the extremes of the scale.
The richest one per cent of Australians are collectively wealthier than the poorest 60 per cent.
Oxfam Australia chief executive Helen Szoke warns the divide is accelerating.
‘When these figures were last reported in 2014, the richest one per cent owned about the same as the poorest 60 per cent. Now they own more than the poorest 60 per cent,’ she said.
The report said 62 mega-rich people across the globe now hold as much wealth as 3.6 billion of the world’s poorest.
Australia’s richest person was worth $18 billion, equalling the wealth held by the poorest 10 per cent of Aussies.
It didn’t name that person, but the 2015 BRW Rich List issued in May gave pole position to mining magnate Gina Rinehart and put her worth at $14 billion.
Dr Szoke said Australia must be part of a global solution to a global problem, and a renewed international focus on corporate tax avoidance would be critical to efforts to address wealth inequality.
She wasn’t suggesting Australia’s richest people were tax dodging.
But the presence of large Australian companies such as Telstra in low-tax jurisdictions proved the need for reforms beyond those put in place by the federal government.
She called on Australia to take a lead role on the issue at this week’s World Economic Forum at Davos in Switzerland.
‘All of these companies that are in the top listings, and the people in the top 62, are part of a global network of business, and that’s why this report’s been raised ahead of Davos.’
Key points for Australia
– The world’s richest one per cent now hold more wealth than the rest of the planet
– The richest 10 per cent of Australians hold more wealth than the other 90 per cent combined
– The gap between Australia’s richest and poorest is accelerating
– In 2015, the wealth of Australia’s richest one per cent outstripped the poorest 60 per cent
– Australia’s richest person is worth more than all of the wealth held by the poorest 10 per cent of Australians
Source: Oxfam’s An Economy for the one per cent report