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Satire: Leunig, used with permission ...

The great gaping hole of Ranger Uranium mine – Pic:

First published June 16

Are you on Australia’s top 100 rich list?  Why not?  Well unless you are willing to exploit something or someone on a grand scale then it is unlikely you ever will be. So let’s take a closer look and see who’s making a killing out of our country’s natural resources.

Beyond being amoral, there is nothing illegal about exploiting nature for profit, in fact it is exactly what has been encouraged by every world nation and their political leaders ever since we began tilling the soil.

The entire ethic of reap-what-you-can-when-you-can, appears to be deeply imprinted in our DNA, and it is this imprint that will most likely see the demise of homo sapiens in the foreseeable future.

The natural resource asset, come commodity, has been steaming ahead since the industrial revolution, and there seems no end to the world’s economy based on it.

Resource extraction is the easiest to capitalise on because the resource itself comes cheap if not next to nothing. All that is required is capital investment to begin, political backing, and a reliable market for the raw materials.

Australia currently has 1.16 millionares, so that’s about 1 in every 20 that have made it, so the odds are reasonable if you want to achieve that milestone.  There are around 75 billionaires down under, and only a handful with assets over the $5 billion mark.

Most of these people in the top end of town 100 rich list have reaped their wealth from manufacturing, property and resource extraction.

Here is the guesstimated wealth of some who have done exceptionally well out of our raw earth minerals. The actual estimations vary between sources.

Gina Rheinhart - $12.68 Billion
Ivan Glasenburg - $8.23 Billion
Andrew Forest - $6.1 Billion
Bianca Rienhart - $3.28 Billion
Clive Palmer - $2.84 Billion

Mining is well suited to a flawed economic system, which is focused on exploiting our natural environment, turning that resource into a commodity that can be sold back to someone else who believes they need it. 

For the capitalistic exploiters, the cheaper the access to the world’s natural resource, the greater the profit margin.

The Tasmanian anomaly

Tasmania has a long history of plundering its natural resources, yet no billionaires have emerged from this process.

There is a plethora of deforested landscapes and gaping mining wounds spread across the entire island, but how many local exploiters have become noted on Australia’s 100 rich list as a result? Seemingly none!

In Tasmania, forestry mining of eucalypts for woodchips didn’t fill too any pockets of the wealthy high end.

Sure some people did all right out of the almost royalty free, relentless subsidy rorts of trashing one of the state’s greatest assets, yet very few of Tasmania’s wealthy derived their fortunes from exploiting these forest resources. So where did all of the benefits from the state’s plundering end up?

Essentially Tasmania has been operating like a third world country by allowing foreign investment into the state to extract the resources, and along with any form of profit it invariably leaves the island’s shore. Even through the rampant Gunns era, very few Tasmanians acquired significant riches.

Today most of, if not all of the large mining and forest industries operating in Tasmania are internationally owned companies.

What exists in Tasmania is a true banana republic ruled through kleptoplutocracy.

*Ted Mead has no desire to be on Tasmania’s top rich list.  However if he had similar resources to that of the state’s nature exploiters, which was granted from our backward governments, then much more of Tasmania’s natural heritage would be protected for posterity. Ted often ponders how Tasmania can cleanse itself from the hopelessly insular attitudes against protecting the environment. Education seems the only prospect because with a highly illiterate society the political catchcry of jobs and economic growth will always appeal to a collective who can’t think for themselves.