Jeff Bezos, who has an estimated net worth of $US103.9 billion ($A150.6 billion), has pledged to use Amazon resources to help Australians impacted by the bushfire crisis.
“Our hearts go out to all Australians as they cope with these devastating bushfires. Amazon is donating 1 million AU dollars in needed provisions and services,” Mr Bezos said.
In a longer blog post about the donation, Amazon committed to more than just a cash donation, saying it would use its technology to help relief efforts.
Amazon Web Services will help provide technical support for many of the government agencies dealing with the response and recovery efforts.
The Bureau of Meteorology, the Rural Fire Service and Fires Near Me app were just some of the agencies using the web services technology.
Amazon will donate to WIRES, the Australian Red Cross and the rural and country fire services.
The tech giant said much-needed items could also be donated to organisations on the front lines through BlazeAid.
“In addition to products donated directly by Amazon, customers will be able to donate items requested by BlazeAid through the nonprofit’s charity wish list,” it said.
“The donated products, including water, food, safety clothing, building materials, and more, have been specifically requested by BlazeAid as essential to aid their volunteers in the recovery efforts.”
Amazon said it was proud to be part of the strong community and this was a way of assisting those leading the recovery efforts.
“We are amazed and humbled by the individuals, organisations, and agencies leading the response and recovery efforts across Australia,” it said.
The donation has been criticised though considering the amount of money that both Mr Bezos and Amazon are worth.
Jeff Bezos is worth ~$116 billion. This is approximately 0.00059% of his fortune. If you had $50,000, this would be the equivalent of donating less than $30. And winning headlines for it https://t.co/IzQlCMMozh
the richest man on earth is donating roughly the same amount as three women raised in 12 hours selling nudes on twitter pic.twitter.com/jfH9F2jbKY
While Amazon’s efforts are beneficial to those that need them, it will likely face scrutiny given the company’s tax record in Australia.
It was revealed last year that Amazon’s three local entities had a combined revenue of more than $1 billion but paid a tax bill of just $20 million in 2018.
In the US, Amazon, which is valued at $US869 billion ($A1259 billion) paid zero US federal income tax on a record profit of more than $US11 billion ($A15.95 billion).
A spokesman said at the time that Amazon paid applicable taxes in Australia and every country it operated in.
The donation draws comparisons to Australian billionaire Andrew ‘Twiggy’ Forrest, who recently announced a donation of $A70 million to bushfire efforts.
Of that, $50 million will go towards a “national blueprint” to develop new approaches to the threat of bushfires, $10 million will help build a “volunteer army” to deploy to regions devastated by bushfires and another $10 million will go to communities on the ground.
The donation has attracted criticism with many people questioning why his company doesn’t just pay tax, which would inevitably aid the country.
Just so we’re clear, Twiggy Forrest’s $70 million ‘donation’ is in the majority going to a foundation set up and run by Twiggy.
He basically did a bank transfer to avoid tax.
The money he is donating is a massive tax write off for him pic.twitter.com/xIRBXiVx3l
The donation makes Mr Forrest the biggest single donor to bushfire relief efforts ahead of James Packer, who donated $5 million, and Atlassian co-founders Mike Cannon-Brookes and Scott Farquhar, who each donated $1 million.