Seven puts up $10 million for bushfire relief

By Chris Pash | 16 January 2020

The Seven Group, and its major shareholder Australian Capital Equity, have pledged a combined $10 million to support fighting bushfires, disaster recovery and rebuilding communities and infrastructure.

The news follows other media figures making donations, including $5 million from News Corp and a personal donation of $4 million from the family of Rupert Murdoch.

Seven staff taking leave to work with fire services or in other volunteer capacities will be paid.

"Your bravery and commitment has inspired us to reflect on what more we can do as a team," say billionaire Kerry Stokes, the chair of Seven, and his son, Ryan, the CEO, in an email to staff today.

"These conditions facing our country are on a level that’s unprecedented and we believe a response from our Group should reflect the severity of the conditions we face, both in the short and longer term.

"The diversity of our group - which includes; WesTrac, Coates, Allight, SGH Energy, along with interests in Seven West Media and Beach Energy, - puts us in a unique position to provide more than just financial support. We have the equipment and services required by the Rural Fire Service (RFS) to support the recovery and rebuilding effort at large."

Seven decided to put up $5 million and Australian Capital Equity matched this with another $5 million.

The company is in talks with the RFS, the Bushfire Recovery Agency, and state governments about how funds, equipment and services can be used to the greatest benefit.

Seven board director and former federal governmnet minister Warwick Smith and James McMahon, COO of Australian Capital Equity, will oversee the initiative.

Part of the email to staff today: 

"We are all distressed by the devastating impacts of the bushfires occurring across the country – particularly in NSW and Victoria as well as South Australia.

"The loss of life, property, wildlife and the destruction of whole communities have been heartbreaking for all of us. We hope you and your families and friends are safe and have not faced significant impact.

"Some of you have served in the RFS and other volunteer services to provide assistance and we’d like to acknowledge and express gratitude for the incredible work undertaken by individuals from WesTrac, Coates, Allight and the wider SGH family.

"All leave taken to fight fires and support affected communities will be recognised as paid leave. Your bravery and commitment has inspired us to reflect on what more we can do as a team.

"These conditions facing our country are on a level that’s unprecedented and we believe a response from our Group should reflect the severity of the conditions we face, both in the short and longer term." 

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