Money & Banking

Andrew Twiggy and Nicola Forest pledge incredible $70 million to bushfire crisis

Andrew Twiggy and Nicola Forest  pledge incredible $70 million to bushfire crisis

Billionaire Australian businessman Andrew “Twiggy” Forrest and his wife Nicole will be parting ways with $70 million as a bushfire recovery package. 

The Western Australian mining magnate will be spending $50 million on a “national blueprint” for fire and disaster to develop new approaches to fight the serious threat of bushfires. 

“We know that this is a matter of national resilience,” Mr Forrest told reporters in Perth. 

“This goes to a holistic assessment of where the nation is at and what we need to do to improve resilience.”

Forrest will further provide an additional $10 million through the couple’s Minderoo Foundation to build a “volunteer army” which will be deployed through different regions that have been devastated by bushfires. 

They will also contribute a further $10 million for communities that are working in collaboration with the Australian Red Cross, the Salvation Army and other agencies on the forefront. 

The foundation has also established a Fire Fund and the Forrests say they will match every dollar donated with two dollars.

“We are here representing a family and from our family to your families, your fire-affected families, the wildlife, the children who are devastated, the parents who have lost farms and properties and homes and dreams, we are here with our family to help support your family,” he said.

Mr Forrest said they are “so proud to be Australians” and to see everyone rallying together “during this cataclysmic time”.

The businessman hopes to raise $500 million through a global campaign to establish a long-term bushfire research project.

“We are stepping up, as we did for the Black Saturday bushfires, to go out to the communities in South Australia, Victoria and New South Wales, find out what you need, what your families need, what your communities need and to help you, not rebuild to perhaps what you had, but to plan for what could be – what may be even better,” he said.

“I would just like to say, on behalf of all of the Minderoo Foundation and all West Australians, that we weep along with Australia, along with you and, as a family and as a foundation, we would like to step up and help you. Thank you.”

The federal government has committed at least $2 billion towards the bushfire recovery and further established a new national agency to co-ordinate efforts on the ground. 

This will be run by former Australian Federal Police commissioner Andrew Colvin. 

The NSW and Victorian governments have set up similar agencies at a state level.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said “tremendous generosity” has been expressed by many people all over the nation, from billionaires “down to boys and girls raising money in their local schools”.

“Can I start by acknowledging the tremendous generosity of so many Australians, whether it is James Packer or Anthony Pratt, or Andrew Forrest, or whoever it happens to be,” he told reporters in Canberra. 

“The generosity of that response, I think, has been simply extraordinary.

“It’s important that we work hard to best channel and co-ordinate that support that is coming through into the areas of greatest need.”

Mr Colvin said they had spoken to Mr Forrest.

“Very generous what he’s put together,” he said today.

“He’s done this before. Last thing I’m gonna do is step in the way of that. I will make sure it’s best utilised.”

Mr Forrest is seventh on Forbes’ ‘Australia’s 50 Richest People’ list with a net worth of $US8.8 billion ($A12.8 billion).