When she laid her money down last November, Gina Rinehart’s spokesman John McRobert—an ex-Pauline Hanson adviser — made it clear Australia’s richest woman was buying into Ten (and Fairfax) because she wanted a voice in the national debate.
And now she has one — without even moving her lips.
If rumour is right, the populist right-wing commentator Andrew Bolt is to front a new Sunday morning talk show on Ten, on which he will have doubtless have ample opportunity to trumpet his views.
The only surprise is Captain Thunderbolt hasn’t been let loose in prime time too. Except, of course, he already has.
On Monday night the nation’s leading climate-change denier was on Ten’s 7PM Project rubbishing man-made global warming and asking his now-favourite question: ‘How much will world temperatures fall if we introduce a carbon tax and do everything the scientists recommend?
It’s a trick question of course. The answer is they won’t, but they may stop rising.
Up in Ten’s boardroom, Australia’s iron ore queen must be thrilled at how quickly her $168 million investment has paid off. After all, Bolt is bound to sound off on many of Gina’s pet subjects.
On the day she bought into Ten, Andrew Bolt wrote in his Herald Sun column that Rinehart was “on a mission” and that Ten was “just the vehicle.”
“I can’t disclose just why I suspect that,” he added coyly, suggesting he had already enjoyed a private audience with Rinehart or her advisers.
Certainly, Captain Thunderbolt and the Iron Lady see eye-to-eye on a number of important matters — like the Greens, global warming and the mining tax — which all have a huge impact on huge mining companies like Gina’s Hancock Prospecting.
Indeed, Bolt couldn’t have written himself a better series of job applications than he has in his columns.
“Vote Greens in this election,” Bolt wrote last August “and you won’t get cuddlier koalas, bigger hugs and cleaner rivers … you’ll be voting to “transition from coal exports”, which means ending a trade worth $55 billion a year.
“You will be voting to close down many other industries, including … mineral exploration in wildernesses, and new coal mines,” he added.
Bolt’s attack on the Greens (whom he has compared to Nazis) is music to Rinehart’s ears, because Hancock Prospecting is currently developing two massive coalmines in Queensland, which will supply billions of dollars worth of thermal coal for Indian and Chinese power stations.
Needless to say, the Iron Lady also agrees with Bolt’s view that “people in the eastern states have got complacent, living fatly off industries they despise.” In fact — silly me — that was Bolt quoting Rinehart and telling his readers she was “rightly alarmed.”
Australia’s richest woman is also alarmed at the prospect of a mining tax. Who could forget the billionaire shouting herself hoarse from the back of a flatbed truck in Perth last June as she chanted ‘Axe the Tax’ with 2000 demonstrators and fellow billionaire Twiggy Forrest.
And guess what, Bolt doesn’t like the tax either. Just seven days earlier, he was using his column to savage the Rudd government for making miners like Xstrata suspend “almost $1.2 billion in coal and copper mining projects in Australia.”
“Won’t be much left to tax by the time it comes in,” was Bolt’s pithy message.
Bolt’s views on man-made climate change and the stupidity of a carbon tax are also well known.
And you won’t be surprised to hear that Gina shares them too. In fact, her office helped organise and fund the famed British climate sceptic Lord Monckton on his lecture tour of Australia in January 2010.
Rinehart also wrote in her February 2011 essay, The World Does Not Owe Australia a Living, “Our taxes are already very high by world standard, and new projects should not be jeopardized with the potential of two additional taxes, MRRT and carbon tax.”
So how lucky for her that Captain Thunderbolt will soon have a show on Ten where he can spruik these opinions.
“I have no idea what Rinehart hopes now to do to Ten, if anything,” Bolt told his readers last November. “Nor could I guess what chances she’d have of turning it into, say, an Australian Fox News, even if she wanted to.”
Well, that probably depends on the audience. But whoever said money can’t buy you influence?