AMAZING ACHIEVEMENT: Comedian Celeste Barber speaks during the Fire Fight Australia bushfire relief concert in February.
AMAZING ACHIEVEMENT: Comedian Celeste Barber speaks during the Fire Fight Australia bushfire relief concert in February.

OPINION: Easy solution to drama over Barber’s $51m donation

FIVE MINUTES WITH FIELDING

CELESTE Barber may have lost her court battle over $51.3 million she raised but that doesn't have to be the end of the matter.

Barber, a comedian who found fame with her realistic re-creations of celebrities' social media photos, used her influence to raise the hefty sum following devastating bushfires.

Of course, she intended for it to be used for many purposes.

But on a technicality, the money could only go to the NSW Rural Fire Service trust and only be spent on a narrow range of items, and yesterday a judge ruled this could not be avoided.

As unpalatable as the result of this ruling may be, put the judgment to the side for a moment.

There is a simple solution.

New South Wales should simply reimburse Barber most of her donation, and stop funding the RFS until it recoups that amount.

Barber would then be free to spend the money as it should, on wildlife services and on the victims of the tragic bushfires, who, after all, are not limited to NSW. That's what the original donors wanted and still want.

And this solution also means the RFS wouldn't miss out on a cent, far from it.

How could NSW refuse, after their state's rural fire service was the recipient of a mammoth windfall it morally had no right to?

I suspect instead the government is planning on not funding the RFS and also not repaying Barber, which means NSW taxpayers will be the only ones to benefit from her amazing fundraiser.



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