Photo: The Sydney Morning Herald
Gina Rinehart, Australia’s richest person, is back in the news for doubling her personal fortune to more than $20 billion last week — a move that brings her closer to becoming the world’s wealthiest woman.But Rinehart, who hates the attention her fast-growing wealth has garnered, isn’t your usual, polished billionaire (a title she has only held for six years).
She’s a mining heiress from deep in Australia’s outback, and many of her economic views are as far removed from the rest of the country as she is.
Rinehart recently penned a piece for the Australian Resources and Investment Magazine, where she touches on her curious plan to split the nation right through its red centre — apparently to shield the economy from downturns in Europe and the U.S.
Under the proposal, which Rinehart is pushing through her lobby group, Australians for Northern Development and Economic Vision, a miner-friendly economic zone would be established in Australia’s northern resources states, where taxes would be slashed alongside legal barriers to bringing in cheap foreign workers.
The rest of the economy would operate in a more tightly regulated southern zone.
It echoes the secessionist policies of Rinehart’s late father, Lang Hancock, who mounted an unsuccessful campaign to separate the resource-rich state of Western Australia from the rest the country in 1970s, in order to protect the booming local economy. (The widely unpopular movement died a couple of years later, but there are still WA secessionists in ANDEV’s ranks.)
Rinehart’s column also argues that new national taxes on greenhouse gas emissions and bumper mining profits should be rolled back to make Australia more attractive to foreign investors.
“Now, as a recession approaches, is not the time to burden Australia with a carbon tax and Mineral Resource Rent Tax,” she writes, in keeping with ANDEV’s climate-sceptic stance.
You can bet Rinehart will be supporting the mission with her enormous fortune, and her sizable stakes in two of Australia’s biggest media companies: Fairfax, a major newspaper publisher, and 10 Network, a national broadcaster.
And as Rinehart’s wealth grows, Australia’s politicians are bound to take more notice.
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