Is it another success story from Twiggy?
‘Twiggy’ has long history of grand goals and gestures
Every thing that he does turn gold, but there is more to the story of his success than is imaginable
The “Amazing act of kindness” was classic Andrew “Twiggy” Forrest; offering the big bucks, surrounded by big names, and proclaiming lofty ambitions.
“I stand before you, obviously, as your servant,” the billionaire said, flanked by the Prime Minister, the Opposition leader and Hollywood stars at the public announcement of his generous act of philanthropy — a pledge to give away $400 million of his wealth, the largest ever donation by a living Australian.
a “game-changer” Called it Malcolm Turnbull that would “change the lives of thousands of people here and around the world”.
Grand goals are synonymous with the Western Australian mining magnate, and his latest charitable endeavours are no exception.
In the past he has pledged to close the gap between non-Indigenous and Indigenous life expectancy within a generation. To end modern slavery within his lifetime.
Now he wants to stop cancer being a lethal disease. The timeframe? “I would like to see it done in this generation as a gift to the next generation,” Twiggy says.
Towards “creating equality of opportunity for all Australians” he is putting $50 million
The quiet philanthropy of many American billionaires and some intensely private local one-percenters is not the Twiggy way.
The list of luminaries at his latest charitable launch pales in comparison to the leaders of the world’s great religions which he brought together to launch the Global Freedom Network.
There stood the Pope, the Grand Ayatollah, the Archbishop of Canterbury, and the boy from Mindaroo, together in the Vatican, in support of an interfaith initiative against child labour and sex trafficking — a spin-off from Andrew Forrest’s Walk Free Foundation.
Mr Forrest ranked it as his proudest and most difficult achievement.
“There had never been a meeting between a Grand Ayatollah and a Pope,” he said in an interview for a Four Corners profile, Iron Man.
Unfortunately, the Global Freedom Network has been riven by division.
A bundle of contradictions
Two years ago the Catholic Church walked away from the initiative, with one of the most senior advisers to Pope Francis, Bishop Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo, giving a scathing assessment of the Australian philanthropist.
“A businessman has a right to make money,” he said, “but not by using the Pope.”
A churlish and unfair assessment perhaps, but it shows the difficulty of making Andrew Forrest’s worthy initiatives work in practice.
Critics accuse Mr Forrest of making grandiose claims, of proposing simple solutions to complex social problems, and his charities of over-promising and under-delivering.
Like the 50,000 jobs he promised to create for Indigenous Australians. Closing the gap. Ending modern slavery.
“We have someone who’s got a lot of money, who’s got access to global power, who can actually do things. But while his understanding of the problem is so basic, so unsophisticated, that power, that money is not being used how it should be,” said Anne Gallagher, an internationally regarded expert on modern slavery and human trafficking, when interviewed about Andrew Forrest’s charitable endeavours.
Andrew Forrest’s response: “It’s better to aim for the stars and fall short than not to try at all.”
While some view his giving as driven by ego and courting adoration, his approach is influenced by his entrepreneurial style and salesmanship. In his eyes, high profile launches — flaunting the support of the rich and famous — are means of garnering publicity and building momentum for a cause.
Never mind that typically the announcement of his $400 million gift to various causes is scant on detail — Twiggy is a big picture man. Others can dot the ‘i’s and cross the ‘t’s.
In the past, he’s been accused of leaving his Mindaroo Foundation hostage to the fortunes of his business by funding it through shares his mining company, Fortescue Metals Group.
But this time, he assures us, it’s money — from his personal fortune.
No-one can say that Andrew’s not putting his money where his mouth is.