If at first you don’t succeed, buy the opposition
Rinehart funded the July 2011 speaking tour of Australia by Christopher Monckton, one of the world’s most notorious (and unqualified) climate deniers. Monckton was filmed during a meeting of the neo-libertarian Mannkal Foundation in Australia wanting to know why there wasn’t an Australian version of Fox News, and suggesting how such a network could be set up to better promote the interests of the billionaire miners present.
Just how powerful is the right-wing media in Australia? Well, some have already suggested that conservative media pressure around the 2010 mining super profits tax hastened the downfall of Kevin Rudd’s Federal Labour government. The recent profile of Rinehart noted that ‘she wouldn’t mind pushing around governments the way Rupert Murdoch does’. This seems likely, considering Rinehart's refusal to sign the Fairfax charter of editorial independence when she bought enough shares for a seat on the board.
Mad at the press? Just buy it.
‘For billionaires who cannot buy good press, there is the option of buying the press,’ Finnegan wrote in The New Yorker.
For Rinehart, the moral of the story seems to be this: if at first you don’t succeed in getting positive media coverage, just buy the opposition. But here’s the problem with that; buying up media that will deny climate change to further the profits of an unfettered mining sector in Australia is not just a case of billionaires trying to make themselves look good. This defence of the status-quo at all costs has serious ramifications for all of us.
Seventh highest carbon emitter on earth
The next project on the books for Rinehart after the expansion of her company’s iron ore mines in Western Australia is a mega coal mine in Queensland’s Galilee Basin. It’s estimated that the carbon emissions from strip mining that amount of coal alone would make it the seventh highest emitter on the planet. There’s more coal in there each year of the project than the entire 2009 emissions of Canada.
That’s even before you start to consider the issues LNG projects have had dredging Gladstone Harbour for their tankers and the risks of increased tanker traffic across the Great Barrier Reef.
Think businesses are gambling with ecosystems and tanker traffic in BC? The Aussies just one-upped you with their plans to ship coal across an ecologically sensitive World Heritage site!
The failure of governments and companies to recognise the atmospheric constraints of our planet and think seriously about the carbon budget we have left means that climate action is increasingly at risk of being too expensive, too late.
This means it’s not just the billionaire miners who get to line their pockets at the expense of future generations (in what might in hindsight look like the largest Ponzi scheme ever imagined and executed). It means, in the words of IMF chief Christine Lagarde, that future generations will be ‘roasted, toasted, fried and grilled’.
And people like Gina Rinehart will be blamed when that happens.