Tributes have flowed for billionaire cardboard magnate Richard Pratt, who died yesterday after a battle with prostate cancer.
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd yesterday said it was a deeply sad night for Mr Pratt\’s family, friends and the business and philanthropic communities.
“Richard Pratt will be deeply missed by many Australians from all walks of life,” he said.
“With his wife Jeanne, he was one of Australia\’s leading philanthropists over a long period of time.”
Mr Pratt\’s generosity helped younger generations fulfil their potential across the nation, Mr Rudd said, in projects like the Northern Territory Football team and the General Sir John Monash Foundation.
Community leaders continued to pay tribute to Mr Pratt overnight after the tycoon lost his battle with prostate cancer.
Other community and business leaders also paid tribute.
Trucking magnate Lindsay Fox said he had lost “a good mate”.
Mr Fox and friends of the Pratts visited Raheen, the Pratts\’ mansion in Melbourne\’s eastern suburb of Kew to pay their respects.
“As many men as women would have shed a tear inside,” he told The Age, as he left Raheen with wife Paula.
“We were having a drink to say farewell to a very good friend.”
A tearful John Elliott, businessman and a former president of Mr Pratt\’s beloved Carlton Football Club, told the Herald Sun newspaper he was devastated by the news.
“I have been friends with Dick for 34 years and he was just an incredible man,” Mr Elliott said.
Friend and former Pratt Foundation boss Sam Lipski said Mr Pratt would be remembered as “a very great, generous and visionary Australian” despite recent controversies.
“History will vindicate Richard, not just as a great Australian, but as a remarkable man,” he told The Age.
One of Australia\’s richest men, property tycoon Frank Lowy, says Mr Pratt was a great friend who faced his legal battle with characteristic resolve.
Mr Lowy says Mr Pratt was a close and good friend to him and to so many others, in good and bad times, with the Australian ethos of true mateship running in his veins.
Mr Lowy says he will be long remembered for the many great works he undertook and for the thousands of lives that were made better through him.
Friend and AFL Western Bulldogs president David Smorgon said his work at Carlton was “exemplary”.
“He typified the true blue spirit for more than 50 years. He always enjoyed the underdog and supported us in our time of need a few years ago by sponsoring a fundraising breakfast,” he told the Herald Sun.
Socialite Lillian Frank said Mr Pratt was “the most fabulous and generous of friends”.
“He was a man who had so much to give, why did they take him away, it is so unfair,” she told the Herald Sun.
Mr Pratt has been hailed by Planet Ark not only for his philanthropy but for making recycling a habit in Australian households.
Planet Ark founder Jon Dee paid tribute to Mr Pratt\’s “extraordinary” generosity, saying he was the first philanthropist to financially support the environmental charity.
“He gave us some real help when we really needed it, when we first started the organisation,” he said.
“I don\’t think he was ever given enough recognition for what he did. But he didn\’t seek out recognition either, he was very private in those donations.”
Mr Dee said Mr Pratt had helped make recycling a habit in Australian households through his packaging business Visy.
“One of the things people don\’t realise is what a fundamental change he brought about almost single-handedly in Australian society by setting up a multi-billion dollar recycling organisation,” he said.
“He mainstreamed environmental issues in the business sector, every company now has an environmental policy but he was way ahead of the rest of the corporate sector in that area.
“In doing that and in mainstreaming that he\’s created a safer future for Australia\’s kids.”
\’Died a sad man\’
Former Victorian premier Jeff Kennett says his friend billionaire Mr Pratt was creative and generous but probably died, in part, a sad man.
Mr Kennett says his death is a real loss and he\’s told ABC Mr Pratt was a livewire and a warm and generous man.
But he says he\’s not happy Mr Pratt was facing criminal charges shortly before he died and believes the case probably didn\’t help his health.
ALP MP and former trade unionist Bill Shorten says Mr Pratt was a seriously good man and an extraordinary human being who gave thousands jobs and cared about the environment before it became fashionable.
\’Pratt died peacefully at home\’
Richard Pratt\’s family says even in his final hours the billionaire urged people to look forward, not back, and to push through the hard times.
The family says in a statement Mr Pratt\’s health deteriorated rapidly in recent weeks after the disease spread through his body, but he died peacefully.
They say he was deeply devoted both to his family and the Visy Packaging empire and a wonderful husband, father and grandfather.
Victorian Premier Johon Brumby\’s office says Mr Pratt\’s family will be offered a state-sponsored memorial.
Meanwhile, media reports say Mr Pratt\’s funeral will be held at the Kew Hebrew Congregation\’s synagogue in Walpole Street in Kewon Thursday at 11am Eastern time.
The 74-year-old Mr Pratt, Australia\’s fourth richest man, died last night at his Melbourne mansion after a battle with prostate cancer, weeks before his golden wedding anniversary to wife Jeanne.
A simple death notice in the Herald Sun newspaper today described Mr Pratt as the “dearest, darling and beloved husband and partner of Jeanne (Pratt).
“Our golden wedding anniversary is on June 7,” the advertisement said.
The advertisement said Mr Pratt was “the adored father of Anthony, Heloise and Fiona” but makes no mention of Mr Pratt\’s 11-year-old daughter Paula, born to his former mistress, Sydney woman Shari-lee Hitchcock.
The revelation of Paula\’s birth made national headlines in 2000.