RICH PICKINGS: Billionaire bonus

While Wayne Swan's second budget leaves many wealthy Australians less well off, a number of high-net-worth figures will do very well out of it.

As predicted, Federal Treasurer Wayne Swan’s second budget contained a number of attacks on the wealthy. But the news wasn’t all bad – a number of our richest entrepreneurs stand to profit from the measures contained in the budget, such as increased investment in infrastructure, the extension of the enlarged first home owners' grant and the increased tax break for SMEs.

Here's a list of some of the winners:

Lang Walker

A variety of entrepreneurs will benefit from the government’s decision to increase the first home owners’ grant, including billionaire Lang Walker. He has a wide variety of projects on the go, including a development called Reflections in the NSW costal town of Barings Beach, which his Walker Corporation bought when the original developer collapsed. In the past few months, Walker Corporation dropped the price of a block from $170,000 and $150,000 and launched a $400,000 house-and-land package – he’ll be hoping to attract a few more buyers loaded up with government cash.

John Grill

The chief executive of engineering firm WorleyParsons should stand to benefit over the next five years from the government’s big spending on infrastructure projects. It’s good timing too. Like many firms in the construction and engineering space, Worley has ridden the mining boom for the past five years and will be keen to find other sources of work.

Lindsay Fox

The billionaire trucking magnate will no doubt welcome increased money on road infrastructure. In the cut-throat world of trucking, where margins are paper thin, even small efficiency gains (such as faster travel times and better fuel efficiency) from better roads make a difference.

Stan Perron

The Perth-based billionaire has a range of investments, but he also owns one of that state’s biggest Toyota dealers. While things have been ugly for car dealers for the past 12 months, the increased tax break for SMEs should spark demand for commercial vehicles and company cars.

Bruce Mathieson

There is a clear link between cash handouts and increased gambling spending. Melbourne’s gaming machine king Bruce Mathieson should benefit from the $30 a week rise in pension payments.

David Barro

Building materials company Barro Group (which is also a major shareholder in listed cement maker Adelaide Brighton) should benefit from infrastructure spending and previously announced initiatives that will see money pumped into social housing and school buildings.

John Symond

Aussie Home Loans founder John Symond recently boasted that his sales had doubled since he acquired Wizard Home Loans late last year. While Symond has expressed concern that the enlarged first home owners' grant has helped overheat the housing market, there’s little doubt the decision to keep the enlarged grants going for another three weeks will help loan sales stay strong for a little while longer.

Zimi Meka and Bob Thorpe

Like John Grill from WorleyParsons, Zimi Meka and Bob Thorpe from engineering firm Ausenco will be pleased to see demand increase from the infrastructure sector over the next four to five years.

Shaun Bonett

Sydney-based property developer Shaun Bonett is best known as the owner of an extensive portfolio of commercial property, but he is also a foundation investor of online insurance comparison service iSelect. Given the changes to private health care rebate levels, middle and high income earners are going to be furiously shopping around, which should help iSelect.

Barry Lambert

As founder and major shareholder of wealth management group Count Financial, Barry Lambert could be classed as a winner and a loser. On the plus side, changes to superannuation rules and pension provisions will probably see clients heading back to their financial advisor for an update. But on the other hand, the super changes are likely to reduce the amount clients pump into their super accounts. Still, it’s a fair bet that the looming rise in the pension age from 65 to 67 will create work for Count over the long term.

The White family

The family behind the famous Ray White Group have interests in real estate, property development and mortgage broking. The extension of the enlarged first home owners grant should ensure that demand for residential property remains firm, despite the economic environment.

The Anderson family

Queensland’s Anderson family are a secretive bunch, but they are probably best known as the founders and largest shareholders in GWA International, a building products company that specialises in kitchen and bathroom furnishings. Government money for social housing, hospitals, schools and universities should help boost sluggish demand.

The Sutton family

The fortune of Sydney’s Sutton family is build around car dealerships, which has been a tough business over the last 12 months. But as with Stan Perron, the Suttons should see a few more business customers walking into showrooms eager to take advantage of the increased tax rebate for SMEs.


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