“If women want to go further THEY NEED TO WORK
Despite the intense public fascination in Gina Rinehart, the richest person in Australia, she remains fiercely private. In a rare interview, she talks to Stellar about family, philanthropy – and her advice to other women
Interview by LANAI SCARR
ruising down the Thames on a vintage umpire’s boat behind the Australian rowing team, Gina Rinehart is in her element. Perched at the front of the wooden- decked Ulysses in a floral pantsuit, gold heels and her signature pearls, with the wind whipping her hair in the wake of the women’s eight heat, Australia’s richest person can’t wipe the smile off her face.
“It was such a thrill,” the notoriously private 64-year- old beams as she sits down with Stellar shortly after her adventure on the iconic river. Time is of the essence when it comes to the world’s seventh wealthiest woman – while she talks to Stellar on a makeshift barge that has been cleared out for her, a charter jet awaits to fly her to yet another European city directly afterwards.
Yet she says she always has time for the athletes she supports through her eponymous Georgina Hope Foundation. “I think it is important that we back young people who are striving for excellence, striving to represent our country at the top levels,” Rinehart says as she looks out over the river at the athletes competing below. “I think they form good role models for a lot of other people. [In] sport there is no such thing as selfentitlement. It is really how much you put in as a person, be you a male [or] a female,” she says.
Sports, and especially Olympic ones that promote women, are a passion of Rinehart’s, and through Hancock Prospecting, the company that made her family billions (Rinehart herself is estimated to be worth $24 billion), she has donated tens of millions over the years to the Australian swimming, volleyball, synchronised swimming and, most recently, rowing teams. Yet there are those who accuse her of using philanthropy to advance her personal profile.
The only child of trailblazing West Australian iron ore magnate Lang Hancock has been a polarising figure in Australian business, society and politics – and even her own family – for years. She rarely speaks to media and is guarded in many of her rare interactions with selected press; when she speaks to Stellar she’s softly spoken, polite and engaging – but clearly on guard. Even her most senior staff refer to their boss as “Mrs Rinehart” at all times.