Dec 6, 2012

Dame Elisabeth: the end of an era of philanthropy?

The death of one of Australia's most generous philanthropists overnight has sparked questions about whether other wealthy people should donate more. Is this the end of an era?

Matthew Knott

Former Crikey media reporter

The death of Dame Elisabeth Murdoch should spur Australia’s wealthy to examine whether they are being stingy with their millions, some of Australia’s most prominent philanthropists argue.

Dame Elisabeth — who supported over 100 charities — died in her sleep overnight at her farm on the outskirts of Melbourne. She was 103.

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15 thoughts on “Dame Elisabeth: the end of an era of philanthropy?

  1. nullifidian

    The true philanthropists in Australia, and especially in the US, are those performing essential tasks for wages below the poverty line; those who clean the toilets in corporate headquarters for example. If the executives in the finance industries were to give away 90% of their salaries they would still be better off than those working in the age care industries.

  2. zut alors

    In general, Australia’s wealthy appear to be under the misapprehension that they can take it with them.

    In Queensland Chuck Feeney has donated at least $200M to medical research. Unsurprisingly, he’s an American.

  3. Bob the builder

    I don’t believe in philanthropy, I believe in taxation.
    Why should the rich get to choose individually where their excess wealth gets spent? The rest of us have to decide collectively via the taxation system and our parliaments where our money goes – why should the rich be any different?

  4. Venise Alstergren

    BOB THE BUILDER: You forget that taxpayers money goes to support all different religious institutions-especially the Catholic church.

    If, and when, we taxpayers can direct where our money goes, almost every charity deserves a bit of help. I bitterly resent my money going towards the Church, but am happy to donate to the odd butterfly or two at the local zoo.

  5. Stevo the Working Twistie

    +1 Bob.

  6. qwerty bluett

    when was the last time any of you gave away millions of dallars? hmm?

  7. zut alors

    qwerty, your point is fallacious – the generosity of donations is proportionate to income as the article points out.

  8. Gerry Hatrick, OAP

    [when was the last time any of you gave away millions of dallars? hmm?]

    +1 for reading and comprehension:

    [Petre says he was shocked to discover during his time on the Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network board that the average household in western Sydney donated a higher proportion of their net worth than the uber-wealthy.]

    I’ll answer your question when I have more than a million dollars, thanks

  9. Bob the builder

    I didn’t say it was a good system or that we could direct our dollars exactly as we’d like, but it’s a system we are all a part of and invested in … except the rich, who pay bugger all tax, very often pay low wages, then get to decide which charities to support, rather than paying tax like the rest of us and deciding together through public policy where to direct our common wealth.
    Of course the US has more philanthropists – they’ve always had a huge underclass and a cohort of incredibly rich tax avoiders and some of them feel twinges of guilt about their unjust society and drop a few crumbs. Big deal. I’d prefer a just society any day.

    It’s just like tipping – the US is a tipping culture because service staff are kept poor and servile. Here we aren’t (or weren’t) a tipping culture because working people organised for good wages and conditions and take (or at least used to take) tipping as a degrading insult.

  10. michael crook

    even if they would pay a little tax, that would help. How come a Labor government that cuts supporting parents benefits refuses to tax the wealthy?

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