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Published 29 November 2012 05:14, Updated 29 November 2012 06:00
There was plenty of love in the room when the world’s richest women, mining billionaire, Gina Rinehart , launched her collection of essays, speeches and articles in Brisbane on November 22. And again in Sydney and Melbourne.
“I do hope you all enjoy the little book,” she declared modestly in the company of her most ardent supporters. They included Ten Network chairman Lachlan Murdoch, Fairfax Media director Jack Cowin and geologist and climate change sceptic Ian Plimer.
The love may have been plentiful but journalists were not. Rinehart’s distaste for the “left-wing media”, which she shared with her late father, iron ore magnate Lang Hancock, borders on the paranoid.
A book launch without journalists may seem peculiar but Rinehart has never been one to do things by the book – including the launch of her own. (Although not fond of journalists, or more likely because of it, Rinehart has substantial stakes in Ten and Fairfax Media, which publishes BRW.)
Her book, Northern Australia and Then Some: Changes We Need to Make Our Country Rich, is not an autobiography, although there are many photos of Rinehart and her father that provide a sliver of insight into the private world of this enigmatic and eccentric figure. (More insight is to be found in Gina Rinehart: the Untold Story of the Richest Woman in the World by Fairfax business journalist Adele Ferguson.)
Rinehart is her father’s daughter – minus the safari suits. As Ferguson has observed: “She’s an absolute product of her father’s politics. It’s almost Lang speaking from the grave with some of the things that Gina believes in today.”
The causes at the heart of Rinehart’s book are identical to those championed by the patriach: that Australia’s future prosperity is inextricably aligned with mining and that anything in the industry’s way is un-Australian.
“The investment in our mining industry has been very positive for Australia but we need to be doing more if we want, as I do, more revenue for our defence, our police, our elderly, our hospitals, roads and infrastructure and communication, to be able to repay our debts and enable sustainable job opportunities for existing and future generations,” she said at the launches.
In particular, father and daughter have spruiked their conviction over decades that prosperity depends on the opening up of the north, free of the dead hand of government regulation. It was a cause advocated in Hancock’s 1979 book Wake Up Australia. In 2010, fed up that her father’s vision was no closer to fruition, Rinehart spearheaded the creation of Australians for Northern Development and Economic Vision (ANDEV).
“We want to unleash the potential of north Australia by getting government out of the way,” ANDEV states bluntly on its website. To enable northern Australia to reach its full potential, ANDEV wants it declared a special economic zone to provide “tax advantages” for investors, the fast-tracking of environmental approvals and the creation of special skilled migration visas for the region.
“Our [ANDEV] members are very concerned about many issues pressing upon Australians, including losing our cost competitiveness,” Rinehart said at the book launch. “We don’t want to see Australia continue on a course with too many heads buried in the sand, critical investors discouraged by bad policies, even hated, [and] too few understanding the problems while Australia moves towards being another Greece or Spain.”
Those heads in the sand belong to those myopic dolts from government that Rinehart, like her father, hold in contempt. “[O]ur federal government keeps increasing our nation’s debts and sadly our state governments [are] adding to this burden with far too little thought as to how we first create wealth and revenue,” she said in her launch speech.
Not all politicians, however, rate poorly in the Hancock-Rinehart worldview. “Pro-development” leaders such as former Queensland Premier Joh Bjelke-Petersen is regarded a hero. Lavish tributes to Joh feature in the book, as they did in Rinehart’s launch speeches. “We have much to learn from this great leader. We have so much to thank him for,” Rinehart lauded in Brisbane, with honoured guest Flo Bjelke-Petersen, Joh’s widow, present to hear her tribute.
Rinehart’s book was released to mark the 60th anniversary of Lang Hancock’s discovery of massive iron ore deposits in the Pilbara on November 22, 1952. It is published by Executive Media and retails for $40 and is most likely to appeal to those who admire Rinehart (and her father) and their particular view of the world.