Aussies pay $10k a head for quake dinner

DANYA LEVY
Last updated 07:51 21/06/2011

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Christchurch earthquake

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Australian business leaders last night forked out NZ$10,000 a head to attend an exclusive dinner in Sydney to raise money for the rebuilding of Christchurch.

The dinner was sponsored by New Zealander and Commonwealth Bank of Australia chief executive Sir Ralph Norris.

It was held at the mansion of Aussie Home Loans founder John Symond in the elite suburb of Point Piper. The property, worth up to A$50 million (NZ$65m) is regarded as one of the most expensive private homes in Australia.

All money raised goes to the Prime Minister's Christchurch Earthquake Appeal Fund.

The menu was created by Sydney-based New Zealand chef Justin North, and guests were served wines from Villa Maria.

Norris said the event was attended by chief executives and chief financial officers of companies with strong links to or representation in New Zealand.

Tickets to the events were paid mainly by their organisations and $700,000 had been raised before the dinner even began.

"My aim is to see whether we can get to the magic million. There's been a tremendous uptake; 80 per cent of those invited attended."

It was an endorsement of the links between Australia and New Zealand, he said.

"What's happened in Christchurch has been devastating. It's important that business and the government work together on the rebuild of Christchurch."

Key has been in Australia for a whirlwind two-day trip. Yesterday he made history by becoming the first New Zealand leader to address the Australian Federal Parliament.

The Christchurch earthquakes were a focus of the visit, particularly after last week's massive tremors.

Key said his Earthquake Appeal had raised just under $80 million to date but he was confidence it would reach $100 million.

Along with money collected by the Red Cross and the Salvation Army, a couple of hundred million dollars had now been raised for Christchurch.

"If you put that in the context of the $20 - $25 billion we need to spend, it's a very small amount.

"(But) it's a sign of the solidarity between Australia and New Zealand and people around the world wanting to support the rebuild of Christchurch."

About 10 per cent of the money raised for Christchurch had come out of Australia, Key said.

It wasn't easy to get people to come along for a dinner that cost $10,000, he said. "But Ralph's got great pulling power."

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