Smith threatens to out rich who don't help others

Dick Smith is so fed up with Australia's ''selfish'' rich that he has vowed to name and shame those who aren't giving back to their community, saying they should ''rack off'' if they won't open their wallets to donate.

''I am absolutely disgusted that most of the wealthy are so utterly selfish and I can't work out how everyone let's them get away with it,'' the millionaire entrepreneur said.

Smith had started naming individuals not doing their philanthropic duty because they should be ashamed, he told the Herald.

''I'm going to 'out' these people. If they don't donate, they're going to be embarrassed.''

More than 2000 people declared more than $1 million a year in income but claimed no tax deductions for charitable giving, showing they had donated nothing, he said. ''We've got to get it so it is an obligation if you're wealthy to become a philanthropist. Otherwise we don't want you in this country - rack off.''

In the United States, the rich donated an average of 15 per cent of their income, Smith said. But in Australia it was less than 1 per cent. ''In America, I'm told that if you are wealthy and you're not known as a philanthropist, you are a social pariah.''

Smith's comments step up the lashing he gave the rich at Christmas, when he roused the chief executives of Australia's big four banks, labelling them greedy and asking them why none were reported to be involved in ''substantial philanthropy''.

In response, one ''hinted that he gave money away but he does it secretly'', Smith said this week.

''I just don't believe him. I've been to the big charities and said, 'Do you ever get any substantial amounts of money anonymously?' and they said 'Never'.'' In any case, philanthropy ''can't be done secretly because it's an obligation''.

It is commonly believed among charities that less well-off areas invariably give a higher proportion of their incomes.

Smith, 67, said he and his wife, Pip Smith, donated about $1 million or more a year.

The former retail-electronics king and Australian of the Year made his comments as the final touches were being put on a $400,000 public sculpture for Circular Quay commemorating the Scout movement's centenary in Australia in 2008. It was funded from $1 million the Smiths gave the Scouts.

Windlines has a 10-metre-long weather vane that acts like a needle above a giant in-ground compass. Each of its 16 points contains a riddle referring to a place in that direction. Created by artists Jennifer Turpin and Michaelie Crawford, it will be unveiled on Monday week.

Smith, of Terrey Hills, said being a Scout as a youngster was hugely beneficial to his life, teaching him his organisational and ''responsible risk-taking'' skills and ingraining in him to always help others.

Then, in the 1950s, ''anyone who had done well … was a philanthropist, whereas it's all changed today''.

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This article Smith threatens to out rich who don't help others was originally published in The Sydney Morning Herald.