Mining billionaire buys into Fairfax
Why is a mining magnate worth $Us18bn buying huge chunks of Australian media?
Environmentalists’ alarm bells are ringing across the Tasman with the news that Gina Rinehart, an Australian mining magnate, has become the single largest shareholder of Fairfax media. The company into which she has invested owns the Sydney Morning Herald and the Age in Melbourne, along with many newspapers in New Zealand including the Sunday Star Times.
Rinehart made her money – estimated by Forbes to be $Us18bn – in the Pilbara region, which is rich in iron ore. Her investment in Fairfax means she now owns 13% of the company.
Speaking to the Guardian in the UK, Adele Ferguson, a senior financial journalist for Fairfax, and currently working on Rinehart’s unofficial biography, said: “I think her move into Fairfax is a power play. She’s probably hoping to get some editorial influence, even if it’s a perception thing. Journalists might think twice about what they are writing about her if she is the company’s biggest shareholder.”
Rinehart also recently acquired a 10% stake (and a seat on the board) in the commercial television network, Ten.
Rinehart is known to be skeptical of climate change, last year helping fund the visit of well known climate denier Lord Monckton.
The news of Rinehart’s acquisition has spurred Australian activist group Getup! to raise money for a media campaign against her. A full page advertisement (pictured above) paid for by Australians opposing the acquistion has run in the Melbourne Age, and satirises the possible outcome of mining industry influence. The ‘edits’ requested include changing out one picture of an image of Lord Monckton, and negative headlines about the mining industry are changed to glowing endorsements.