Industrialist, Born 1915, Cassano delle Murge, Italy, Died 2007
Born in a poor Italian village in 1915, the young Franco Belgiorno-Nettis worked in his grandfather’s blacksmith’s shop. On leaving school, he was accepted at the Italian Military Academy where he spent five years training as an engineer.
When war broke out Franco was sent to North Africa as a lieutenant in the Italian Army. During the Battle of Tobruk he was taken prisoner and spent the next five years in a British POW camp in India.
After returning to Italy he was offered a job as an engineer with a company in Milan. It had a contract to build power transmission lines in Australia and in 1951 Franco worked on the construction of the first steel power transmission line built in this country.
Staying on in Australia, he founded his own engineering company, Transfield. Starting with virtually nothing, the company was awarded a contract to build power transmission lines in Port Kembla.
Transfield soon became a major industrial force and in 1991 it completed the successful construction of the Sydney Harbour Tunnel.
Franco Belgiorno-Nettis was also well known for his generous patronage of the arts and sponsorship of major cultural events.