A man and his wife donate $50 million

"I suppose I could have bought a yacht... but then how could I sit in church every Sunday?"

Graham Tuckwell, a global commodities trader and billionaire, has made the largest ever donation to an Australian university. Amidst an atmosphere of funding cuts and teachers’ strikes, Mr Tuckwell and his wife have donated $50 million to the Australian National University (ANU) to set up an Australian version of the Rhodes Scholarship.

Every year 25 ‘Tuckwell Scholars’ will be chosen from across Australia to study at ANU. They will be given a scholarship valued at $100,000, and will partake in a program designed to encourage good citizenship as well as academic excellence. Mr Tuckwell will personally take part in the selection process, and intends to mentor the students throughout the year.

Graham Tuckwell had an ordinary upbringing in suburban O’Connor, ACT. He attributes his success to his education, especially his time at ANU. His own children will receive some money, but he says that it is their education which will be the focus, as he expects them to work hard to build their own success.

He says of the decision, “I suppose I could have bought a yacht, and then sat on it… Or I could have spent it on fancy holidays, and alienated myself from my friends, or bought half a dozen houses, but then how could I sit in church every Sunday?”

You can read more in the article Billionaire gives back with $50m uni donation at the Canberra Times website

Opinion – Education trumps charity

Have you heard the one about the billionaire, the comedian and the orang-utan? No? Then let me tell you a true story...

Donald Trump is in the process of suing a comedian for $5 million. The comedian had joked that if Donald Trump could prove his father wasn’t an orang-utan, the comedian would pay him $5 million. Instead of ignoring the (not especially funny) joke, Mr Trump sent the comedian his birth certificate as proof, and proceeded to sue him for the money when the comedian didn’t pay up. Trump has indicated that the money will go to a charity of his, Trump’s, choice.

What a self-indulgent waste of time. The only reason Trump hasn’t received more of a media caning is his comment that he will donate the money to charity. Surely a man like him could be doing so much more than harassing comedians and giving money away without bothering to step up himself and shape how, and where, it is spent?

Graham Tuckwell, on the other hand, has (in my opinion) donated to one of the most important causes of all: his country’s future. And he hasn’t just thrown money at ANU and washed his hands of the donation. He is taking an interest and personally getting involved to make sure that the students receiving those scholarships get as much out of the experience as possible.

I can’t comment on what Mr Tuckwell is like as a husband, a father or a friend, but as a public figure all I have to say is – "what a guy".

Do you think that Graham Tuckwell should have donated his money to a better cause? Is it being wasted on a select few, or do you agree with Rachel that education is of the highest importance?


    To make a comment, please register or login
    6th Feb 2013
    Chinese Proverb - "Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man how to fish and you feed him for a lifetime." Education is the best way to address poverty, inequality etc I see this as a good investment.
    6th Feb 2013
    that is one of my favourite proverbs, and it is so true. Educate one person and others benefit. Mr. Tuckwell is indeed a great and wonderful man. Australia to have it's own equivalent of the Rhodes Scholarship?? W O W!!! Mr. Tuckwell is investing in the future of my g/children and he doesn't know them. Mr. Tuckwell is investing in the future of Australia :) There is no better cause than the education of our youth. Remember, educate one means you educate more.
    Nan Norma
    6th Feb 2013
    Maybe this man has already donated to charities.
    6th Feb 2013
    I applaud Mr Tuckwell's generosity in this case. I would be interested to see if the scholarships go to overseas applicants.
    Nan Norma
    6th Feb 2013
    mmmm that's a thought.
    6th Feb 2013
    We have Australian Rhodes scholars. This can only improve our education standing in the world. We have many super intelligent people here, I think it is Bond University in Q'land that houses an exceptional researcher in rocket fuel. He would not 'defect' to NASAR. Maybe we can import/nurture the science elite here in Australia instead of our brains going overseas. So, I agree it will be interesting where the scholarships go.
    6th Feb 2013
    Wow. Education in my humble opinion is the answer to most of the problems of society.Imagine how it could change attitudes, which in its turn would reduce loss of life,through change in lifestyles.
    6th Feb 2013
    I think it is a wonderful gift, and education is the pathway to a better world, I hope the recipients of the reward will keep this in mind as they progress through life and continue using their gift to make for a better future for many more, I am sure this is the wish of Mr Tuckwell and his wife, a good news story for once?
    6th Feb 2013
    After reading lots of information about him, all reports are that the money will go to 25 Australian students that score above 95, have a good work ethic and have community involvement. He is taking control as he is going to fly to Canberra each year to be on the selection committee. Not only has he committed his money, but the scholarship includes personal mentoring by him!

    What an amazing man.

    Access to him and his business connections would even far outweigh the $20,000 a year living expenses for the successful candidates!
    Not too many wealthy would bother with any of this. One thing to donate some money that you won't miss and walk away feeling better.

    Totally different story when you commit your time on an ongoing basis to make a difference!
    Alida Talbot
    6th Feb 2013
    My gast has been flabbered, absolutely top notch, I'm proud and so should everyone else be in this country, that we have this calibre of a successful individual in our midst. I cannot contribute in his fashion but perhaps it will awaken something in the parents bringing up overindulged children, I wonder how many of you recognize yourselves? take a hint, make your children work for their achievements.... sincerely yours "old Nonna"

    6th Feb 2013
    This is certainly an amazing gift - but I would have some reservations about it.
    Mr Tuckwell is one of those people who has made billions from "global commodities trading".

    The "commodities" Mr Tuckwell deals in, are not the "commodities" we immediately think of - in the form of foodstuffs, metals, energy products, etc.

    Mr Tuckwell deals in scrip-shuffling - trading currencies, dealing in "CFD's" and other dubious financial market "devices".
    He deals in the "Shadow Economy". He has never generated any real wealth by inventions, scientific advances, energy production, or anything that has enriched our everyday lives.

    In fact, Mr Tuckwell and his associates are the people who created the GFC, and who daily enslave us with their get-rich-quick schemes that merely cream off vast profits to themselves, from "real" wealth, that as nations, we have already produced.

    I would applaud Mr Tuckwell if his money goes towards educating scientists, engineers, chemists, and others in the important fields that advance our technology, and improve efficiency in energy and other fields - and which therefore increase our "real wealth" as a nation.

    I would be deeply concerned if Mr Tuckwells vast sum of money went towards educating more "economists" - who merely sit around and tell us what may or may not happen to the economy of our nation - or who transfer great wealth to themselves merely by trading in "financial instruments" that are merely huge numbers on LCD screens.

    These "dealings" add nothing to our real economy, but actually bleed it of wealth - our wealth.
    6th Feb 2013
    Oh Aaron, you've bought me back to reality. I didn't want to know how he made his fortune. Ignorance is NOT bliss. Now I have the ethical dilemma ... do I support what can be good for my country and her people or do I turn my back for ethical reasons? I am not an economist but am studying Business and Professional Ethics in Philosophy this semester and our first exercise concerns the morality/lack of morality in one news item of our choice. As I said, do I go against my morals and applaud Mr. Tuckwell or do I rip into him for being immoral (according to my standards)??
    6th Feb 2013
    I don't think it wise to look a gift-horse in the mouth and as Seth said, below, if his wealth was gained lawfully I don't see a problem I just see a generous, well-meaning Australian,
    7th Feb 2013
    Thanks Michael, it really is none of my business how he obtained his wealth. If he invests in Australia then it is my business. I am impressed that Mr. Tuckwell is going to have a 'hands-on' approach and oversee the whole process, not just donate and let others assume responsibility.

    Maybe I am I being naive, but I feel Mr. Tuckwell would be more inclined to encourage education outside the area that allowed him to accumulate such wealth.
    6th Feb 2013
    Irrespective of how Mr Tuckwell was able to become wealthy, as long it was all legally obtained and not through dubious means, then he has the same rights to distribute his wealth, as we all do, to whom he or we wish too..
    6th Feb 2013
    Well said seth
    6th Feb 2013
    Would have thought Mr Tuckwell could have split it up, we have cancer research, we have charitys screaming for money, that would be helping australians more so than all the eggs in one basket, and how many australian students are going to get their bite of the cherry .
    Aunty Jack
    6th Feb 2013
    It's his money; and it's his privilege to do whatever he wants with it. Besides Icertainly would not be giving any money to any cause that the federal government could get their hands on at the moment.
    6th Feb 2013
    Cowboy, Mr Tuckwell was wise in putting all his 'eggs' in one basket, He left it wide open for other community minded people, such as yourself' to donate to cancer research. Or charity of your choice.
    Remembering that 'Charity" begins in the mind, not the money.
    6th Feb 2013
    Would be nice to see the Obieds donate some of their millions!
    6th Feb 2013
    What about Gina Reinhart.. how mean is she! The richest woman in Australia but does she donate? She could do so much good with her billions!
    6th Feb 2013
    Let's say THANK YOU Mr Tuckwell for your wonderful gift towards education.
    Maybe one of the students will find a cure for cancer, heart disease, genetic abnormalities etc, etc.
    Aunty Jack
    6th Feb 2013
    Well, said.
    7th Feb 2013
    exactly Peepo.!!
    6th Feb 2013
    I am the treasurer of a local kids charity, I find that the poorer end of society contributes the most (mainly because they know what it is like to have nothing), I am pleased and delighted that My Tuckwell is the exception to this rule
    6th Feb 2013
    As the saying goes, dont look a gift horse in the mouth. Surely the people supervising the scholarships are expected to be of high moral character who will decide wisely who gets them
    6th Feb 2013
    ps. Thank you on behalf of the students and the parents
    6th Feb 2013
    Hear, hear mummu.
    6th Feb 2013
    A Fantastic gift...and maybe some of the other Millionaires will be feeling a bit guilty and might put their hands into their pockets..and donate to some cash.
    I volunteer and see what is happening in the local community. with more and more needing emergency relief, food, housing. many on disabilities, mental disorders, drugs and huge waiting lists for help in drug rehab.and decent housing.
    Many of the so called guest houses are terrible..and can be frightening with physical attacks from other people staying there, trying to lock yourself in, and also many are overcrowded with people sleeping in the hallways at night with some unscrupulous so called landlords not caring and cramming them in. Some feel safer sleeping on the streets.
    Maybe this year will be better...this gift gives us the boost that there are indeed people willing to help and be involved and get the next generation ready to take on the challenges
    discovering medical, and hope for the future .
    I'm sure Gina Rienhardt could spare a few million to add to the funds needed.
    6th Feb 2013
    I hope that the recipients of this largess spend it wisely and use the funds to attract a higher standard of student to become teachers in primary and high schools. These places are the foundation of society. The teachers should not be induced to produce politically correct clones and automatons as is currently done in some states to conform to an ideological view point the politicians and their public servant lackeys deem appropriate. Above all, the trend toward "dumbing down" of the school population must be reversed. I hope this injection of funds will result in producing students that value excellence in their chosen fields.
    7th Feb 2013
    I was enjoying the comments until I read Wally's, the name says it all; there is absolutely nothing the matter with our teachers, except they are expected to be child minders and rearers instead of teacher; to be nurses and administer medication and assess if a child is having an allergic reaction; are employed for ten week terms on a part time basis, if they can secure a position; are totally under paid (scandinavian countries pay their teacher in line with Doctors and Solicitors); and to top it off; they are verbally and physically abused like you would not believe, check out some of the reports the education departments do not want you to see, you will be appalled at the injuries they sustain. Only when society put teaching back on esteemed level and affords them the respect they deserve will the quality of student learning improve, until then, totally over worked and stressed professional, continue to turn up to face other day of abuse from student and parents with no recourse and no ability to defend themselves. Yes a Rhodes scholarship is a wonderful addition to Australian learning... but if we do not restore some respect for our teachers they will be very few student to apply for the scholarship.
    7th Feb 2013
    One of my lecturers (from a couple of years ago) received the Teacher of the Year award recently!! Go to any University home page and you can read about total dedication to helping people (students) learn. He turned his back on a lot of wealth and comfort and traveled from the Eastern Suburbs to Penrith campus by train and bus!! This young man is an inspiration.
    7th Feb 2013
    Education IS and always will be of the Highest importance.....The couple who donated should be awarded a very high commendation as well..I salute them...especially in this very greedy and totally selfish world we live in today...I had a photo sent to me the other day of a lovely young couple who donated a large amount of money from their wedding presents to a childrnes charity overseas for the self same thing...to educate them all...without knowledge and education women will continue to bleed and be abused......its dreadful what we read and also see on the media what is still happening to some of the worlds most beautiful women.......
    7th Feb 2013
    Australian of the Year maybe??
    7th Feb 2013
    The education here in WA is still behind the standards of our homeland UK....we came here in 1972 and told in UK that the Nuffield Sciences were exactly the same here as in UK...When we got here and settled in the Hills building our home, the youngest girl went to Junior school and back two years...all her knowledge was forgotten as she re did it all starting two years behind...again the eldest went to High School and went back two years as well...she went on to become Dux of her class in competition to another young man because as she told me she had already done the work in UK so re doing two years work and also dropping her foreign language...she had two languages in UK and here she had one to start which of course never got her anywhere as she decided not to start it.....she went onto become an executive in the financial arena and her younger sibling too also went on to become a member of the health arena as well......Education is paramount to gaining and being accepted into academia and being able to build a good life etc etc......lets hope with a new approach and an Election looming things will improve...I think the language barrier of incoming migrants, refugees etc can be a hard task especially if parents still speak their native tongue.....there is a plethora of retirees out there who would voluntarily give of their time to help with reading at any of the schools..what a waste...I was told years ago that I would have to go to Teachers Training College for 3 years to gain a diploma (union backed) even though my Boss at that time was pushing for me to help with the Migrants to speak English...all those wasted years have gone by now..........
    7th Feb 2013
    PS...I had spent years in HongKong Teaching children 2 and half to 5 yrs English yet this wasnt any good or being acknowledged here in Australia....
    My eldest daughters friend at the High School here 14 yrs old had never seen or read an End Blyton Book or could even read properly........
    7th Feb 2013
    Figtree misses the point. In the public schools, curriculum is dominated by focus groups and so-called educational experts. Do not blame the class room teacher, the curriculum is determined by these "Sir Hmphreys" to the state education ministers who instruct the education department apparatchics to follow these curriculum changes. Department people go to the schools and advise subject masters and mistresses of these changes. They also tell these people to ensure that classroom teachers follow the curriculum come Hell or High Water. Having had these changes rammed down their throats, the classroom teacher must follow these instructions or face a loss of promotional opportunity through failing inspection or dismissal. The result is that the "wise" teachers that value their chances toe the line and become clones of their "superiors" or face the consequences.
    Do not confuse the person at the coal face with the heirarchy, which is a common mistake people make, (as in describing their experiences as patients in public hospitals with good staff members in the wards as opposed to the bloated public service administrators more interested in building their little empires than in serving the people that depend on them to run the place wisely and efficiently). Lastly, do us oldies think we received a better education in the 40's,50's 60's etc. than what the children of today receive? Let's hope the money is spent wisely instead of simply being handed over to the fat cats to look after to perpetuate the system with all its faults.
    8th Feb 2013
    What a generous man, up to 25 scholarships valued at $20,000 a year for five years. He said he and his wife's university experiences were life-transforming and wants to give other young Aussies the chance they had. Thank you Mr and Mrs Tuckwell. Apparently wealthy Aussies prefer to hang onto their money rather than give it away to good causes. Pity.
    8th Feb 2013
    Congratulations!! It restores your faith in humankind to know there are generous people like him. I wish I could do the same...but an unemployed teacher living on the government pension it's not much that I can do. Last year I had a very good student (R.C.) who could'nt continue her studies because her parent are with a student's visa and she needs to pay $40,000- to go to uni or $15,000.- to continue studying at Tafe. She can't afford neither of these options...What a waste!
    In Spanish we say: 'Poderoso caballero Don Dinero'...

    Join YOURLifeChoices, it’s free

    • Receive our daily enewsletter
    • Enter competitions
    • Comment on articles
    you might also be interested in...

    Retirement Planning

    When retirement planning becomes life planning it is a challenging, fun and fulfilling task.

    Age pension explained

    Anne explains whether you will qualify for an Age Pension and simplifies some of the more complex scenarios you may encounter dealing with Centrelink.


    Got the travel bug or need a break? Take a look at our latest Seniors travel discounts and deals.

    Meal Ideas

    Be inspired by our easy meal ideas. Search through hundreds of recipes to find the perfect one for any occasion.


    Have some fun and keep your mind active with our Daily Crossword, Trivia, Word Search and Sudoku Games.