Where opinions matter – Should there be greater generosity from our richest


A loud round of applause for our wealthiest citizens, led by Gina, Andrew and Kerry, for pouring money back into the national economy and donating.

Australia’s richest-ever citizen Gina Rinehart, worth more than $30 billion, has diversified massively into pastoral businesses, snaring 10 million hectares with capacity to run more than 340,000 cattle.

Iron ore magnate and pastoral queen, she supports breast cancer, Australia’s Olympians and dirt-poor Cambodian children. Gina donates $10 million-a-year, ranking 12th among Australia’s philanthropists.

Twiggy Forrest, worth nearly $30 billion, (doubling his fortune in a year) committed $88 million to charity, becoming Australia’s number one philanthropist. He’s also part of Philanthropy Australia’s Arts Funders Networks supporting hard-hit artists.

Twiggy has diversified, with fingers in many pies including combatting slavery, plastics in the ocean, seafoods, cattle, cancer cures and wide use of hydrogen and green energy.

Gina and Twiggy are Australia’s two biggest taxpayers, paying more than $1.1 billion between them in 2018–2019 and now passing $2 billion in corporate taxes. They also pay State royalties and hefty personal taxes, nearly half of their incomes.

Kerry Stokes, best known as a media tycoon, has most of his family’s $7.2 billion fortune exposed to mining; he has the Westrac caterpillar dealership, Beach Energy and Coates Hire, as well as a sprinkling of other interests.

Kerry has been a big supporter of WA’s biggest charity fundraiser, Telethon, a sponsor of fire-fighting as well as art, returned soldiers and service medals. He is listed seventh on Australia’s list of givers.

Little-known Alexandra Burt, daughter of the late Peter Wright, and wealthy Jack Bendat are major philanthropists. Ms Burt and husband Julian support the arts including ballet ($3 million), WA Symphony Orchestra and Australian String Quartet. 

Our tycoons revel in the biggest fortunes of all time. They are making the greatest community and business contributions of all time and are paying the biggest tax bills of all time.

But where do we draw the line? Just in Western Australia we have three billionaires worth more than a total $70 billion. During the pandemic and economic downturn, billionaires boomed and Australia emerged with 122 billionaires.

Ralph Sarich edged-in with $1.05 billion.

These ground-breaking individuals are richer than many nations, controlling more money than they could ever need in 10 lifetimes.

Our tall poppies cop plenty of flak but their super-riches can’t be ignored.

The issue is worthy of debate. Perhaps we could include the billions of dollars profit made by our big four banks annually, plus the super-salaries and golden handshakes our business leaders command.

Business leaders in capitalist societies naturally take fatter pay packets than the rest of us but the cream at the top of the corporate world is excessively thick by any standard.

There is so much personal wealth in the world, it’s hard to shake-off the feeling that “something’s gotta give”. Individuals each worth thousands of millions of dollars!

A super tax? Canberra talk of a mining super-tax failed miserably. And the late Kerry Packer isn’t the only critic of what governments do with our taxes.

Resentment, restrictions, revolution clearly aren’t the answer. A more generous sharing of wealth to genuinely worthy causes, with charity starting at home, would be appealing.

A number of tycoons, starting with Americans Bill Gates and Warren Buffet, distribute massive wealth while they are still alive and have encouraged fellow billionaires to follow suit.

Some of WA’s tech-millionaires have sworn to distribute their fortunes. WA billionaires have stepped up to the plate, as shown above but is it enough? Public perception would suggest not. Should there be greater generosity from millionaires and billionaires to fellow citizens?

An independently-administered, transparent foundation would help counter community resentment. Perhaps it would divert governments from any new thoughts of super-taxes.

What do you think?
Email info@haveagonews.com.au with Opinion in the subject line.