Forrest Calls for Lift in Australia’s Future Vision
12 October 2016 at 3:01 pm
Australia must combine ethical business practices with macro philanthropy to create a powerful force for common good, Australian philanthropist and mining magnate Andrew “Twiggy” Forrest has told the National Press Club.
In his address to the Canberra press club, called Lifting Australia’s Vision to Reach Our Potential, Forrest said that to deliver a better Australia we must embrace a culture of risk and honest failure, build ethical businesses, encourage small and large philanthropy, and support leaders to act with humility and vulnerability.
“Australia’s future prosperity can be secured if we lift our aspirations above the mediocrity bred by an over-reliance on welfare, a fear of failure and a lack of creativity in finding solutions to society’s most complex problems,” Forrest said.
“Our nation is muddling along while there are communities drowning in alcohol, lives being shattered by drug abuse and children not going to school.
“The common denominator in much of this tragedy is a cash-based welfare system that underpins laziness and rewards bad choices.”
Forrest founded iron ore and nickel company Fortescue Metals Group (FMG) in 2003 – one of Australia’s largest companies. In 2001, he founded the Minderoo Foundation and
GenerationOne, which works to end Indigenous disparity in Australia as well as Walk Free Foundation, which works globally to eliminate modern day slavery.
In 2013 the prime minister appointed Forrest to chair a review into Indigenous training and employment. The Creating Parity Review produced a range of recommendations, including the introduction of a controversial Healthy Welfare Card. Trials of the card are underway in communities in South Australia and Western Australia.
“I put to you that the culture of a progressive nation is one that embraces risk and honest failure as fundamental to our success. Risk is fundamental to change, and when we avoid risk we deny our nation’s ability to improve, for without change there can be no progress; there can be no improvement,” Forrest said.
“When we don’t embrace risk we lose the ability to think creatively.
“Poverty, homelessness, slavery, corruption, fraud, inherited trauma… these multi-faceted challenges can’t be fixed with the same linear, one-dimensional thinking that created them in the first place.”
He said his second critical point was that: “The integrity of a thriving society is one that is driven by ethical business practices, based on a director’s conscience, not on fear of headline-hunting regulators or mind-sapping details of law.
“And if we combine ethical business practices with macro philanthropy we create an overwhelmingly powerful force for common good. We have not yet seen this in Australia.
“When giving in substance is fearless, be it contributions of time, money or other resources, then all of us in society should encourage that philanthropy, because only that can fill the yawning gaps left by both business and government in community.
“Ethical business combined with philanthropy is the greatest force for good we can encourage, and enables risk-taking that governments cannot undertake with public money.”
Forrest also took aim at the quality and character of Australia’s leadership.
“Our leaders – in fact, all of us, no matter where we stand politically – must support plans that will build the health and wellbeing of our country. That will help to lift communities out of despair.
That will bring meaning to the lives of our many vulnerable citizens,” he said.
“We must recognise that the politics of small thinking is nothing more than pettiness which will drag our nation down. We want to be a big-thinking nation. A nation devoid of Indigenous disparity. A nation where everyone can have a crack without fear of scorn for failure.
A nation of integrity and generosity. A nation of humble leaders, where we are as strong as our weakest citizen, and our weakest citizen is strong.”