Bushfire appeal: Billionaires, where are you?
Julie-anne Sprague

Comedian Celeste Barber has taken aim at Australian billionaires, including Gina Rinehart, as she tries to rally more financial support to help firefighters battling mammoth blazes across NSW and Victoria.

Comedian Celeste Barber. 

Ms Barber, who has raised more than $40 million after launching a social media plea for donations, publicly called out Gina Rinehart on Tuesday night. She wanted to know where Mrs Rinehart and “all” her money was. In a separate tweet, Ms Barber noted the funds raised by wealthy donors after Notre Dame burnt to the ground in Paris.

“Times that by a trillion and that’s what’s happening in Australia. Feel free to flick us a quick couple of million.”

It was estimated more than $1 billion was raised to rebuild Notre Dame, far more than the estimated cost to repair the fire-ravaged building. Some of France’s wealthiest families and executives rushed with financial pledges in excess of $100 million each.

Mrs Rinehart, who supports several charities and donates luxury linen to cancer patients at numerous hospitals in Perth, is ranked second on the Financial Review Rich List with an estimated wealth of $13.8 billion.

Strong iron ore prices is boosting her wealth and that of fellow iron ore magnate Andrew Forrest, whose paper wealth jumped by $1 billion during the month of December alone. In the past 12 months, the value of Mr Forrest’s stake in Fortescue Metals Group has surged by a staggering $7.2 billion to $11.8 billion.

Gina Rinehart is Australia’s richest women, and supports several charities. Not for syndication

That has meant Mr Forrest recorded the fourth-largest increase of the 500 billionaires Bloomberg tracks in its global Billionaires Index, with his fortune soaring 182.9 per cent to $US9.1 billion ($13.3 billion).

Mr Forrest helped victims of a devastating fire in Yarloop in Western Australia in 2016 and was involved in rebuilding the Marysville community after the Black Saturday fires in Victoria in 2009.

Ms Barber’s plea comes after Rich Lister James Packer increased his support by $4 million to $5 million and Hollywood star and Young Rich Lister Chris Hemsworth pledged $1 million to assist with the bushfire recovery.

Meanwhile, Australia’s richest person, Anthony Pratt, has committed $1 million through the Pratt Foundation and the philanthropic arm connected to fellow Rich Lister John Gandel has committed $1 million.

Julie-anne Sprague writes on Policy, Agriculture, Mining and Food & Wine. Based in our Perth newsroom, Julie-anne is a senior reporter with more than 13 years experience as a finance journalist working in the UK and Australia. “ Connect with Julie-anne on Twitter. Email Julie-anne at jsprague@afr.com.au

Julie-anne Sprague

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