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Andrew Forrest tops list of billionaires’ donations (SMH)

November 13th, 2013

It has been a good year for giving, with Australia's wealthiest individuals loosening their purse strings to fund higher education, medical research and the arts.

Four of the largest known donations have been made in 2013, according to Philanthropy Australia. Andrew "Twiggy" Forrest, and his wife Nicola, top the league table of generosity with their $65 million gift to the University of Western Australia, just pipping the $60 million Sydney Arts Fund set up by James Packer. James Packer's donation gives arts a boost in western Sydney. 

Packer plans to fund arts organisations in Sydney as a sop for the NSW government green-lighting his proposed casino at Barangaroo. Donations of $50 million each to the Queensland Institute of Medical Research and the Australian National University have also been made this year.

"It's certainly been a cracker of a year," said Louise Walsh, the chief executive of Philanthropy Australia. "Higher education hasn't had a bad run. It's been punching above its weight." Walsh said Packer's $60 million donation - half of which will be made through the Crown Resorts Foundation as part of his casino's corporate social responsibility programs - was a "biggie" and among the top dozen in terms of generosity."The really significant thing for me is the $30 million that's going to western Sydney," she said. "It is envisaged there will be a mix of CRF funding for capital, art programs and scholarships for the people of western Sydney," according to a statement from Packer's company, Crown Resorts Limited. Walsh said philanthropists often restricted how donations could be spent, preferring building projects to operating costs. "For my mind, if it was unrestricted that would win them more brownie points," she said. "It would be great to consider applications for the more unsexy things."

By Andrew Taylor

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