Gina Rinehart tops AFR Rich List


Australia's richest person 40,000 times wealthier than the average, Aussies are world's worst for junk fashion, and CommBank launches cheap loan - with strings attached. Here are five things you may have missed this week.

Nation's richest person 40,000 times wealthier than the average Aussie

gina rinehart tops afr rich list

Another year, another failure for most of us to make it to the top (or even bottom) of the Australian Financial Review's list of Australia's wealthiest people.

It comes as no surprise that Gina Rinehart has topped the Rich List for the fifth consecutive year, with wealth of $40.6 billion.

Despite a cost of living crunch, the daughter of larger-than-life mining magnate Lang Hancock has added an extra $3.2 billion to her wealth over the last year.

It's largely due to Rinehart's involvement in the lithium industry - lithium being a major component of electric vehicles.

Rinehart has almost lapped Australia's second-richest person - 91-year-old Harry Triguboff, also known as 'high rise Harry' for his role as founder of property developer Meriton.

Triguboff's wealth is estimated at $26.5 billion.

For context, the average Aussie household has net wealth of about $1,042,000.

But all things are relative, right?

Even Ms Rinehart's riches pale in comparison to the $US233 billion ($353 billion) wealth of the world's richest person - Bernard Arnault, owner of a luxury brand empire that includes Louis Vuitton and Sephora.

Aussies cop dressing down for junk fashion

Australians buy more clothes per person than any other country according to the Australia Institute.

Our love of new threads isn't just leaving us out of pocket.

It's also creating a waste crisis.

That's because a lot of what we buy is 'fast fashion' that ends up in landfill.

The Australia Institute says:

  • Australians buy an average of 56 new clothing items a year, more than the US (53), UK (33 items) and China (30).
  • The average value per item purchased by Australians is just $13, far lower than the UK ($40), USA ($24), Japan ($30) or even Brazil ($16).
  • More than 200,000 tonnes of clothing end up in landfill each year, the equivalent weight of almost four Sydney Harbour Bridges.

Nina Gbor, Circular Economy and Waste Program Director at the Australia Institute, says, "Australians are the world's biggest consumer of clothes, shoes and bags per capita. We're addicted to stuff that is harming our health and the environment."

She adds, "We need to drastically reduce waste at the source by penalising brands mass-producing incredibly cheap and poor quality clothing that is often worn just a handful of times."

The Federal Government has proposed a 4 cents per garment levy to cut clothing waste and fund domestic recycling initiatives.

However, Gbor believes the levy is too low, and says it should be at least 50 cents per item.

"Shein and Temu are expected to make more than $2 billion in sales this year combined," notes Gbor. "The Federal Government could redirect some of their profits to cut clothing waste and fund a domestic recycling and a circular textiles industry."

CommBank launches cheap loan for refinancers - with strings attached

The Commonwealth Bank has ruffled feathers across the mortgage broking industry with the launch of its new Digi Home Loan.

The loan, which is only available to refinancers, comes with a rate as low as 6.15%.

By comparison, CommBank's standard variable loan has a rate of 6.49%.

The Digi loan is only available to borrowers who sidestep both the branch and the broker, and apply online or via the CommBank app.

To be eligible, customers must be refinancing from another lender and have at least 20% home equity.

Existing CommBank home loan customers cannot switch to Digi.

SMSF members enjoy bigger balances, greater confidence

There's nothing like hands-on control to fuel confidence in our super savings.

A recent report by Vanguard/Investment Trends says members of the nation's 615,000 self-managed super funds (SMSFs) are "substantially more confident" about their retirement prospects than those with a professionally managed (APRA) super fund.

One in three SMSF members are so confident they're planning to hang up their work boots before reaching preservation age of 60 years old.

This confidence may not just lie in having first-hand control of retirement savings.

It could also reflect far bigger nest eggs.

SMSF balances are at their highest this year - with an average balance of more than $1.5 million.

This eclipses the average balance across APRA funds - $189,892 for men, and $150,922 among women.

Bank of Nan and Pop keeps families afloat

The baby boomers have, at times, copped flak for their perceived impact pushing up property prices, and big spending during a cost of living crisis.

But it turns out the nation's seniors are playing a key role keeping families financially afloat.

Research by Compare the Market (CTM) found close to three in four grandparents have offered their offspring a financial helping hand.

One in three have gifted money to adult kids and grandkids; 13% have loaned money to family members; and close to one in 10 grandparents have helped grandkids with a property purchase.

Despite 60% of seniors being uncertain about having enough money to live on in retirement, CTM found only one-quarter of grandparents have not helped their family with living costs.

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A former Chartered Accountant, Nicola Field has been a regular contributor to Money for 20 years, and writes on personal finance issues for some of Australia's largest financial institutions. She is the author of Investing in Your Child's Future and Baby or Bust, and has collaborated with Paul Clitheroe on a variety of projects including radio scripts, newspaper columns, and several books.