Sir Vincent Fairfax and Lady Nancy Fairfax at the Rawbelle property.
Sir Vincent Fairfax and Lady Nancy Fairfax at the Rawbelle property. Photo: Vincent Fairfax Family Foundation

Induction honours Sir Vincent Fairfax's contribution

FROM his rural upbringing in the Darling Downs to having his hat shot off serving in the Second World War, Sir Vincent Fairfax knew he must share his good fortune with others.

He served philanthropy "up with the porridge at breakfast", his family remembers fondly.

His sharp business sense and philanthropic ventures were last night celebrated as he was inducted into the 2014 Queensland Business Leaders Hall of Fame.

Sir Vincent was the great grandson of John Fairfax, who sailed to the country in 1838 with £5 in his pocket and went on to establish what is now Fairfax Media.

He was born in 1909 on a property called Marinya at Cambooya, south west of Toowoomba.

Sir Vincent spent 38 years as a director of Fairfax companies, 16 years chairing AMP, was on the Bank of NSW board and he initiated the Stanbroke Pastoral Company which became Australia's largest beef company.

His career was briefly interrupted with a stint in the war. While he was embarrassed at never having served on the frontline, he had his hat shot off during a battle in Borneo.

The Vincent Fairfax Family Foundation was the feather in the cap.

Established in 1962, the foundation has distributed more than $100 million and is still going strong.

Sir Vincent's son Tim Fairfax, philanthropist and QUT Chancellor, has also embraced his father's legacy of giving and wishes to keep the foundation going.

"He believed that when someone is given so much, they have an obligation, or a duty, to give back to the community," he said.

"Sir Vincent certainly instilled that into, not only his children, but also his grandchildren."

Mr Fairfax said Sir Vincent, who died in 1993, would be "tickled pink" at being inducted into the Hall of Fame.

"My sense is he would think it a very great honour, he'd be chuffed," he said.

"He was a very humble and peaceful person but he was also a leader, albeit a quiet one."

QUT deputy vice-chancellor Peter Little said Sir Fairfax was proof business leaders could enjoy success without compromising their ethics.

"He was very diligent, he was very thoughtful and he had great humility, but he also had a great sense of purpose," he said.

"That sense of purpose was wonderfully illustrated with the establishment of the VFFF - a hugely significant commitment which continues to improve the lives of Queenslanders and Australians."

Mr Little said despite his involvement in the Fairfax business in Sydney, Mr Fairfax retained rural properties in Queensland and took every opportunity to come back.

He said Mr Fairfax's contribution to Queensland business was huge, pointing to Stanbroke and AMP particularly, and deserved to be recognised.

"His list of community contributions and charitable works is quite simply amazing," he said.

"He is one of those Queenslanders who became distinguished on the national stage."

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