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Aussie billionaires earned $2,376 a second since start of COVID

·3-min read
Australian currency fanned out and people waiting in a line all wearing masks.
Australian billionaires doubled their wealth during the first two years of the pandemic. (Source: Getty)

The wealth of Australia’s 47 billionaires doubled to $255 billion since the onset of the pandemic as the incomes of 99 per cent of the world fell.

Australian billionaires made around $2,376 a second, or $205 million a day, during the first two years of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Meanwhile, more than 160 million people around the world were forced into poverty, a new Oxfam report found.

Oxfam said the findings meant 47 Australian billionaires had more money than 7.7 million (30 per cent) of Australians combined.

The report, Inequity Kills, warned of the deadly nature of the world’s growing extreme economic inequality, ahead of the World Economic Forum’s Davos Agenda meetings.

The report found inequality was contributing to the death of at least 21,000 people each day, or one person every four seconds.

The finding was based on deaths globally from lack of access to health care, gender-based violence, hunger and climate breakdown, Oxfam said.

Oxfam analysis found the Australian outcome was mirrored at a global level.

In fact, the world’s 10 richest people more than doubled their fortunes to $1.9 trillion at a rate of $18,750 per second or $1.6 billion a day.

Oxfam said if those 10 people were to lose 99.999 per cent of their wealth tomorrow, they would still be richer than 99 per cent of people on Earth.

The world's 10 richest people have six times more wealth than the world’s poorest 3.1 billion people.

Oxfam Australia CEO Lyn Morgain said the need to address the obscene ramifications of inequality, including poverty, had never been more urgent.

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

The report said 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 across the world.

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

Morgain said the rapid spread of the Omicron variant perfectly illustrated the interconnectedness of the global population and the deadly consequences for all in allowing this level of inequality to develop.

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

“We have calculated that an annual $30 billion wealth tax would have a massive impact.

“For example, 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.”

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