One in a million

Rather than wait to leave a will bequest after they’re gone, a Castlemaine couple have donated $1 million to help make the world a better place while they’re still very much about to enjoy it.
When Caroline and Terry Bellair recently decided to donate the generous sum to Bush Heritage to buy up private land and conserve its ecological and environmental values, they never expected it would create as much media attention as it has.
Both are members of the Friends of Campbells Creek Landcare group and say they were also motivated by a wish to do something real to help tackle climate change.
“Climate change has made it more urgent,” Caroline says.
“There’s no point knowing you could help but not doing anything about it.”
Bush Heritage works in partnership with groups like Trust for Nature and Greenfleet Australia to conserve or restore ecosystems, creating natural carbon sinks to help offset the drivers of climate change.
Their largesse has enabled Bush Heritage to buy a 203-hectare block of land near Emu as part of a wider overall process of establishing nature corridors for native wildlife species.
It will help form a chain of land reserves and eco corridors between Wedderburn and the Kara Kara National Park in an area that Bush Heritage refers to as the Kara Kara-Wedderburn Landscape.
And Terry and Caroline now say negotiations are well advanced for their donation to enable Bush Heritage to buy a second block of 300 hectares near Kooyoora state park.
In making their donation, the couple say they have benefited enormously from surplus franking credits through their self-managed super fund and don’t feel that the franking credit taxation benefits are sustainable or fair when they benefit those who are already well off.
Their donation is a way of giving back, says Terry who stands by his earlier public comments describing Australia’s current franking credit taxation arrangements as an “outrageous abuse of process” .
Since word of their donation got out, the couple have shouldered the media attention well, buoyed by the knowledge that it’s already inspiring others to make similar donations.
“We feel pretty good about it,” Terry says.
“People have said ‘why don’t you buy something for yourselves?’ “Caroline says.
“But we’ve spent money on something that gives us pleasure.”
Taking their family and friends to visit the land they’ve helped conserve is part of their reward – and their family has applauded their decision.
“They think it’s great,” Caroline says.
“We’ve always been passionate about the environment and long-time supporters of Bush Heritage.”

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