Entrepreneur Dick Smith has defended Gina Rinehart’s Fairfax share raid, saying that more old-style media proprietors would be good for Australia.

Smith, profiled today as number four on our Rich Crusaders list, says he has no problem with media owners exerting editorial influence.

“I don’t mind her going after Fairfax,” he told The Power Index. “I’d love to go back to the old-style proprietors who provide a bit of leadership. I’m a right-wing capitalist, you gotta remember that. When I ran Australian Geographic my writers knew they couldn’t write anything I disapproved of because they wouldn’t have a job in the long term.”

Although Smith does not share Rinehart’s opposition to the mining and carbon taxes, the two have been firm friends since they met on the set of Channel Ten’s Tonight program in the 1970s.

“She came on and I minded her son John for her. He was six or seven. Ever since then, I’ve had dinner with her whenever I’m in Perth. I like her. We need more entrepreneurs like her.”

Last year, Smith pleaded for Rupert Murdoch to return to Australia and force his newspapers to be less critical in their coverage of the Gillard government’s carbon tax.

“Rupert, we need you back here in Australia,” he wrote. “Come back and take the reins — your editors are losing the plot and need to be reminded that you accept we must transform the way we use energy and that we need to act now.”

As well as tackling climate change and reducing Australia’s immigration intake, Smith is currently crusading for wealthy Australians to donate more to charity.

“There are 6000 people in this country with an income of more than $1 million and a third claim no tax deductions for charity,” he tells us. “Not even $50 to the Salvos.”

*To comment and for more visit The Power Index

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey