As the Roy family and their obscene displays of wealth return to our screens later this week, Oxfam Australia is shining a light on billionaire wealth, global inequality and calling for a wealth tax on the super-rich.
The HBO show Succession satirises fictitious extreme wealth, power and unbridled privilege. Though in reality this outrageous wealth is present the world over, as well as here in Australia. Meanwhile, hundreds of millions of people are battling an unprecedented cost-of-living crisis, unable to feed themselves and their families.
Forbes calculated approximately just how wealthy Logan Roy and his family are, stacking up a net worth of $26 billion, mostly from the Roy’s 36% stake in Waystar, the publicly traded $67 billion media and entertainment conglomerate. This figure is in line with the net worth of Rupert Murdoch, the Australian media mogul who loosely inspired the show’s creation.
In the TV show, the Roys own hundreds of millions in real estate – including palaces and castles. The family also hold other eye-wateringly expensive assets, including a $188 million superyacht and helicopters and planes worth $72 million, chump change to the super-rich.
Oxfam Australia calculated:
- If the Roy family’s fortune were subject to a 5% wealth tax, it would raise a staggering $1.3 billion,
- The revenue gained from a wealth tax on this one fictitious family could provide food to nearly 6 million hungry people each year,
- The wealth of the Roys is 25 thousand times that of the average Australian household,
- The cost of the yacht, planes and helicopters alone represent more than 75 times what the average Australian earns in their entire lifetime.
This highlights the absurdity of this one fabled family’s amassed fortune and the injustice and policy failure that enables extreme wealth to thrive in the world today.
Oxfam Australia Chief Executive Lyn Morgain said enormous wealth portrayed on Succession exists in the real world, and called for urgent action from governments.
“As millions of people tune in to enjoy the final season of calamity that will undoubtedly ensue in season four, witnessing the Roys board yet another comically extravagant yacht, catch a fleet of helicopters to play a family game of softball, or yet again act in their own despicable self-interest, we must ask ourselves, is a world where the rich amass all the wealth while millions face life threatening hunger a world we want to live in?”
“I’m sure I’m not the only person who sits glued to their screen during each episode of Succession, thoroughly entertained by, yet disgusted and angered, at the wealth of Logan Roy and his children in the context of a world where there is so much need, knowing that their lives portrayed are not fiction, knowing that the soaring cost of living is hurting so many worldwide.”
“Billionaires and corporations need to be held accountable. Taxation provides the best tool we have to ensure that no individual or family can hold this level of wealth without contributing to the needs of humanity.” Ms Morgain said.
Australia has our own cohort of real life one-percenters who still play by a set of tax rules, which they have rigged in their own favour. These billionaires often contribute less tax than everyday Australians, like nurses or teachers.
Staggeringly, just 46 Australians now have a combined wealth of over $300 billion. Oxfam’s has calculated that a 5% wealth tax on Australian billionaires would raise over $15 billion per annum. This might mean one less super-yacht for the super-rich, and we reckon that’s a good thing.
To make tax fair, the Australian government only need follow these three simple steps:
- Stop shortchanging our community by giving reduced tax rates to billionaires, big corporations and people on high incomes. (Yes, that means scrapping the Stage 3 tax cuts.)
- Stop giving hundreds of millions of dollars in handouts to fossil fuel corporations that are already making billions in profit.
- Make billionaires, big corporations and the super-rich pay more tax, especially when they make massive windfall profits off things like a global pandemic, a war in Ukraine or interest rate rises.