BRW's rich list top five
BRW Rich 200 editor, Andrew Heathcote names the top five richest people in Australia in 2012.
SHE could buy two iPads for each of her fellow 22.9 million Australians, or eliminate world hunger for a year. If that should not appeal, she could play her own game of Monopoly with all the mansions in the nation's most expensive address, Wolseley Road, Point Piper.
Gina Rinehart has just become the richest woman in the world with the BRW Rich 200 list estimating her wealth had nearly tripled in the past year to $29.17 billion.
She roared past Christy Walton, a widow with a large stake in the US retail giant Wal-Mart, who is reputedly worth $25 billion.
It was only 20 years back that Ms Rinehart debuted on the list with a relatively paltry $75 million following the death of her father, Lang Hancock.
Apart from the West Australian billionairess, whose estimated fortune rose from $10.3 billion, most list veterans had a difficult year, with 104 losing money and 80 increasing their wealth.
The editor of the BRW Rich 200 list, Andrew Heathcote, said: ''The relatively low number of newcomers and re-entrants on the list this year says much about the state of the economy.''
The uncertainty of the times was perhaps reflected in the fact that the cut-off for eligibility in the list dropped $5 million to $210 million this year.
The South African-born commodities trader Ivan Glasenberg retained Australia's second spot, although his wealth dropped to $7.4 billion from $8.8 billion.
BRW found some additional assets of property mogul Frank Lowy, which pushed him into third place with $6.47 billion. The Victorian manufacturer and property developer Anthony Pratt and family fell from fourth to fifth, although their wealth rose slightly to $5.45 billion.
Despite the exponential growth of Ms Rinehart's wealth, the number of resource barons on this year's list fell from 28 to 22. The WA miner Andrew Forrest fell from third to fourth as his wealth shrank slightly to $5.89 billion while the Queensland miner Clive Palmer fell from fifth to eighth with $3.85 billion.
The list remained largely a man's world. Only 16 women made it, one more than last year, and many were the wives of primary wealth creators.
Therese Rein, the wife of the former Labor prime minister Kevin Rudd, who has made a motser from privatising welfare, is now worth an estimated $210 million.