Developer makes Australia's biggest charity donation

SYDNEY (AFP) - A wealthy property developer on Wednesday pledged A$50.1 million (S$57 million) to the Queensland Institute of Medical Research in what is believed to be the largest single charitable donation by an Australian.

The gift from 78-year-old Clive Berghofer, a self-made multi-millionaire who left school at 13 to work in a sawmill, comes on top of more than A$10 million he gave to the same facility in 2001.

"Simply put, Clive is a truly great Australian. He has single-handedly transformed medical research in Australia and we will all benefit from his generosity," the institute's director, Frank Gannon, said in a statement.

"Clive Berghofer has recognised that QIMR is a world leader across cancer, infectious diseases and mental health and complex disorders. Our research can only go from strength to strength with financial backing on this scale.

"This is a remarkable vote of confidence in our work, and a mark of the man."

Reports said his donation topped the A$50 million global commodities trader Graham Tuckwell gave Canberra's Australian National University in February.

Mr Berghofer, who still works 12 hours a day, urged others to follow his lead.

"There's heaps of people with plenty of money who don't give," he told the Brisbane Courier-Mail.

"Australians are not really generous when it comes to giving. Some people want you to give, but they don't give themselves. I like to lead by example."

Mr Gannon said the money would support research and enable investment in the latest technologies.

"The funds will be used to enable us to continue our cutting-edge research.

They will enable us to expand our recruitment program, provide strong support for students, and ensure our staff have state-of-the-art equipment," he said.

As a sign of gratitude, and in recognition of Mr Berghofer's long history of support, Mr Gannon said QIMR will change its name to be known as the QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute.