Kinghorn to fund lessons in ethics

Kinghorn to fund lessons in ethics

Right-wing think tank the Centre for Independent Studies and a group that provides ethics classes for schoolkids are among charities that have accepted millions of dollars in donations from corrupt businessman John Kinghorn.

Kinghorn's $300 million foundation has pledged $2.5 million each over five years to the CIS and to Primary Ethics.

The donations were announced on the website of the Kinghorn Foundation, which was set up in 2007 with $300 million reaped from the float of Kinghorn's ill-fated home lender, RAMS. They follow a $25 million pledge last year to build the modestly named Kinghorn Cancer Centre, in Sydney.

In late July, the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption found that Kinghorn and other directors of Cascade Coal engaged in corrupt conduct in a deal involving a tenement in the Bylong Valley and shonky ALP heavyweight Eddie Obeid.

Among directors accepting Kinghorn's cash on behalf of the CIS are NAB chairman Michael Chaney, infrastructure tsar Sir Rod Eddington and Macquarie Group boss Nicholas Moore.

At Primary Ethics, former BT banker Bruce Hogan is chairman, with ethicist Simon Longstaff, former PwC partner Robin Low and former NSW government adviser Nigel Stokes filling the remaining chairs.

The cash will no doubt be handy for the CIS. While it is in no danger of going broke, thanks to a $5 million investment fund, revenue dropped last year from $3.1 million to $2.6 million. An extra $500,000 a year would be enough to fix the CIS's bottom line - it lost $270,000 in 2012.

CBD has yet to hear back from CIS spokeswoman Aimee Cornelius, but Primary Ethics chairman Hogan welcomed the Kinghorn moolah.

The charity aims to develop the capacity of schoolchildren for moral reasoning. So how would Hogan explain accepting the Kinghorn Foundation money to one of its ethics classes?

"Quite comfortably," he told CBD. "It would be quite wrong to confuse the behaviour which was found to be corrupt with the action he took some years ago to give $300 million to charities in Australia. I think it's very important - clear, logical and ethical reasoning, that's what we want to give these children."

Over at the Bylong Valley Protection Alliance, which fought the Obeid-linked mine, the donations raised eyebrows.Vice-president Stuart Andrews said he probably wouldn't take money from Kinghorn.

"He's not Robin Hood," he said.

Pet projects

The CIS and Primary Ethics are just two of Kinghorn's pet projects.

Under its "talented youth" mandate, The Kinghorn Foundation also gives each of the Jack Newton golf foundation and Golf Australia $1 million a year to fund junior golf.

Other beneficiaries include the - again modestly named - Newport Kinghorn Surf Racing Academy, which got $800,000 up front and $300,000 a year "to become the centre of excellence for NSW-based 'iron men' and surf competitors".

There is $3 million - $250,000 a year for 12 years - for Rotary Australia to fund scholarships in Tanzania, $5 million for the Pain Management Research Institute at Royal North Shore Hospital and $5.25 million - $750,000 a year for seven years - for cancer charity Redkite.

All up, the foundation has so far pledged more than $21 million.

BCG strikes back

Boston Consulting Group has responded to criticism from News Corp boss Rupert Murdoch with the bravery, transparency and originality for which management consulting is a byword.

On Saturday, Murdoch attacked BCG, which did the toe-cutting for deposed News Corp Australia

head Kim Williams, as "ignorant".

And how did BCG use its clean-slate approach to invent a best-practice solution combating this outrage? "We have no comment," spokesman David Upton said.

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