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Sir Laurence Macdonald Muir, VRD, FSIA, FAIM (3 March 1925 – 21 April 2010) was an Australian philanthropist and businessman.
Laurence Muir was born in Victoria and educated at Scotch College (Captain of School 1942), and the University of Melbourne. After service in the Royal Australian Navy from late 1942 until 1946, he gained a Law Degree and was admitted as a Barrister and Solicitor of the Supreme Court of Victoria in 1950. For 30 years from 1950 to 1980, Muir was a leading sharebroker specialising in underwriting major capital raisings for large Australian companies and a senior partner with Potter Partners.
Between 1981 and his death Sir Laurie served on the Boards of ANZ Bank, Alcoa of Australia Limited, Australian Consolidated Industries Limited, Wormald International Limited, National Commercial Union Limited, The Herald and Weekly Times Limited, Hudson Conway Limited, Publishing and Broadcasting Limited, Crown Limited, State Development Fund Ltd, and Templeton Global Growth Fund. He was Chairman of Liquid Air Australia Limited and served on the L'Air Liquide International Board. He served on the General Motors Australian Advisory Council since its formation in 1978.
He also served the Federal and State Governments and was a member of the Parliament House Construction Authority, the Australian National University Council and inaugural Chairman of the Canberra Development Board.
He was involved in many charitable organisations and was a patron of both the Microsurgery Foundation and The Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute. He was a founding trustee of Earthwatch Australia and a board member of the Sir Robert Menzies Trust. He was an honorary life trustee of CEDA.
At the request of the Commonwealth Government he served for two terms on the Council of the Australian National University and served for eleven years (the duration) on the Board of the Parliament House Construction Authority.
In 1981 Muir established for the Federal Government, the Canberra Development Board and as its chairman for eight years he was responsible for stimulating the private sector growth of the ACT economy. During this time he assisted the Government in attracting and staging the IAAF World Cup in Athletics in Canberra. As Chairman of the Parliament House Construction Authority Artworks Advisory Committee he worked with arts and crafts professionals from all over Australia to assemble the notable collection of 20th-century art which is a feature of the new Parliament House.
In 1980 he chaired on behalf of CEDA (of which he was a life trustee) a two-day conference in Canberra involving federal ministers, opposition spokesmen, Trade Union leaders, treasure officials, academics, and forty business leaders. The Agenda explored the need for a business round table to be available for consultation with the Government and as a result the Australian Business Council was formed about 20 months later.
Throughout the eighties and early nineties he served on the General Motors Advisory Council and was active on the Anti Cancer Business (fund raiser) Committee, which he had chaired since its formation.
Muir was involved in setting up the Annual Cup Day Appeal, The Daffodil Day and more recently assisted Relay for Life to raise funds for the Cancer Council of Victoria. He served ten years on the Board of the Royal Flying Doctors Service (Victorian Division) and was a corporate fundraiser for the initial National Heart Foundation of Australia, Anti Cancer Council, and Menzies Foundation appeals. He served for fifteen years on the Menzies Foundation Board and for ten years on the National heart Foundation Board. For five years in the mid eighties he chaired the Australian Brain Foundation after which he served for ten years as a Trustee for the Foundation for Development Co-operation (Australian only private aid agency helping the people of underdeveloped countries).
In the lead up to the 1996 bid by Melbourne for the right to host the Olympic Games, he served as a Commissioner responsible for winning the votes of all IOC members in the Caribbean, Central and South American regions. After five visits to fifteen countries and visitation from the IOC officials, the quest ended unsuccessfully in Tokyo.
For almost forty years he was involved in the Alfred Hospital and Baker Medical Research Fund Raising effort. After 10 years of service on the Alfred Board he served as a board member and later Chairman of The Baker (Australia's premier Heart Research Institute). He led several fund raising appeals for these institutions. For the past 20 years, he has been Patron of The Baker Medical Research Institute.
In 1987 he helped to bring the Earthwatch Institute to Australia and with Sir John Crawford, Professor Ruther Ford Robertson, and Dr Jim Vernon, was a founding Trustee. He remained active in Earthwatch until his death and was Co-Patron with Sir Ninian Stephen. Earthwatch has now funded and organised some 3000 scientific missions to save the Planet.
With Dr Bernard O'Brien, Sir William Kilpatrick, and Dr "Weary" Dunlop, he helped to establish the Micro Surgery Foundation in the early seventies. Various fundraising appeals and representation to State and Federal Government resulted in the opening of a first class research centre at St. Vincents Hospital. This centre is a world leader and is flourishing thanks to the skill of Bernard's successor Prof Wayne Morrison and the leadership of Ronald Walker the current chairman. Sir Laurence Muir is proud to be the Patron of the Microsurgery Foundation at the Bernard O’Brien Research Centre.
In the Mid seventies Laurence was challenged to raise $13 million to build St. Vincents Private Hospital for Sister Fabian the then Head of the Sisters of Charity at St Vincents. Urged on by the devout sister ("God will find a way Mr Muir") the goal was achieved by persuading the State Government to provide a Government guarantee thereby making the loan a "30/20" semi Governmental which the Institutions were happy to subscribe at a rate the hospital could handle.
In the seventies he chaired a two-day conference of independent school Headmaster and Catholic school representatives, resulting the formation of the National Council of Independent Schools. For many years he served on the Council representing Scotch College and was Deputy chairman to Ian Dixon of Shore.
In 1973 as Deputy Chairman of the Scotch College Council he was asked to Chair his third fundraising appeal. This led to the establishment of the Scotch College Foundation, which harnesses the funding resources of the whole Scotch Family to finance the building and development program of the School. To date the foundation has raised $37 million and most similar schools in Australia have adopted the format.
In the mid eighties he served with Sir Eric Neal as chairman for the Finance Committee for the 6th Duke of Edinburgh Study Conference. The corporate response was such that after a successful conference a surplus of $250,000 was available for the future.
In 1984 he founded and funded the Delta Society of Australia. The aim of the society was to make Governments and the Community more aware of the benefits of pets both as companions and for therapy. Working with a group of leading Veterinarians and Dr Warwick Anderson of the Baker Medical Research Institute, a three-year study of heart patients showed that patients benefited substantially from a companion animal.
In the seventies he set up the Australian Innovation Corporation with ten major Institutions as shareholders. The aim of the Company was to encourage the commercial development of Australian inventions.
In 1984 at the request of the Commonwealth Government he chaired a partnership between the Government and the private sector, which was designed to encourage the commercial development of medical equipment and innovations in the major public hospitals and university laboratories. The Australian Biomedical Corporation was launched in the mid eighties with Muir as chairman. It was subsequently the subject of a private sector takeover.
In 1986 he worked with Sir Ian McLennan and Mr Baillieu Myer and the Minister for Science Hon. Barry Jones to establish the National Science and Technology Centre. In 1988 the centre was built in the Parliamentary Triangle in Canberra enabling science to take its place with the Arts and the Law. The Board of the National Science and Technology Centre was asked by the Government to take hands on science to every part of Australia. Which has happened.
Sir Laurence assisted Prof Michael Gore through corporate sponsorship to establish Questacon. He served as Deputy chairman from 1988 to 1996.
In 2007, Muir published: "Some Inspirational People", subtitled: 15 inspirational Australians profiled by Laurence MacDonald Muir.
Those profiled were: