'A billion reasons to smile': Maha's milestone
VISIONARY Queensland developer Maha Sinnathamby has joined the ranks of Australia's billionaires.
The 77-year-old, who is creating a city-within-a-city at Greater Springfield in Ipswich, is number 43 on Forbes magazine's list of the country's 50 richest people, revealed yesterday.
The engineer-turned-entrepreneur, who was born into poverty in a Malaysian village, is now worth an estimated $1.16 billion.
His Springfield Land Corporation is transforming 2860ha of scrub he bought for under $8 million 25 years ago into a masterplanned community which is already home to 34,000 residents and heading for more than 100,000.
Flight Centre co-founder and managing director Graham "Skroo" Turner is knocking on the door of the billionaires' club - his $998 million placing him number 46 on the list.
Technology entrepreneurs Mike Cannon-Brookes and Scott Farquhar, both 37, are the youngest inclusions.
The pair, who co-founded software company Atlassian, are ranked jointly at number 10 with a combined fortune of $4.4 billion.
The list is headed by mining baroness Gina Rinehart with $21.5 billion. Her wealth almost doubled from last year, rising $10.5 billion thanks to a recovery in iron ore prices.
Australia's biggest apartment builder, Meriton Group's Harry Triguboff, is number two with an estimated $12.8 billion wealth.
Two other Queensland-based business leaders make the list.
Property developer Bob Ell, 72, of Leda Group fame, who lives on the Gold Coast, is number 28 with $1.8 billion.
And John Van Lieshout, a Dutch immigrant who arrived in Brisbane as a 14-year-old unable to speak English and went on to build the Super A-Mart furniture chain, is ranked number 35.
His fortune is put at $1.6 billion.
The minimum needed to make this year's top 50 was $US700 million ($907 million), up from $US500 million ($648 million) last year.