Jane Nethercote writes:


The steel tycoon and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie put it best in 1889: “The man who dies thus rich dies disgraced.”

Yesterday, Gareth Morgan decided against that fate. The New Zealander, who became $NZ47
million richer when his son Sam sold the Trade Me internet auction
business to Fairfax for $NZ700 million, announced that he’s giving it all away.

“I just can’t think of anything to do with it”, says the Dominion Post
columnist and investment adviser. So he and wife Jo will set up a
foundation to administer the funds. “It’s like winning Lotto 50 times,
it’s so out of proportion. We’re just ordinary people.”

You’d
be hard-pressed to find an Australian millionaire doing the same thing.
“Rich Australians are pretty stingy”, says Denis Tracey, deputy
director of Philanthropy and Social Investment at Melbourne’s Swinburne
University. Then again, very few Australian millionaires have raised
their children on public transport – “I have always had enough”, says
Morgan, “even when I lived in a bus and raised two kids”.

Here
in Australia we could do with a few more Gareth Morgans. As Vartan
Gregorian, president of Carnegie Corporation of New York said in The Economist‘s excellent recent exploration
of wealth and philanthropy: “I like people to be public about their
philanthropy; it makes it more competitive if we can see who is doing
what.”

Peter Fray

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