Cartoon: By Pickering.
Gina Rinehart has in a few years built her fathers mining companies up to the point where she is acknowledged as being the world’s richest woman, with assets of over $29 billion. She has worked tirelessly and successfully at building up the assets of the company and has deserved all of the success that has come her way.
Recently she has moved into media ownership, taking a stake in Channel 10 and building up a 19% interest in Fairfax media.
Fairfax is essentially the moribund shell of what was once a great and respected media organization, lauded for its ‘rivers of gold’ in advertising revenue. Since then it has declined dramatically to the point where there is good reason to believe it will fail. What it has in its favor for the time being is the federal government, as it tends to be the only print media supporting Gillard other than left wing bloggers.
The possibility of Rinehart taking over has prompted a frenzied response from the government including some gratuitous business advice from Communications Minister Stephen Conroy:
As Ms Rinehart pushes for greater influence over Fairfax after its dramatic restructuring announcement yesterday, Communications Minister Stephen Conroy warned the mining magnate she risked destroying the company.So, given that Conroy sees fit to lecture on business to the nation’s most successful businesswoman, it seems fair to suggest that he has pretty good qualifications himself. Wrong!
Ms Rinehart yesterday demanded three board seats and a say over editorial direction after Fairfax announced 1900 jobs would be slashed, the erection of paywalls on its websites and the transformation of its newspapers to tabloids.
Senator Conroy said Ms Rinehart wanted to turn the company into the "mining gazette." "She is entitled to representation but what she is not entitled to do is trash the brand for all the other shareholders," he told ABC radio.
"She should be aware that that charter is something that readership of The Age, the Sydney Morning Herald, believe in and have supported over many, many years. "If she was to directly interfere and breach that charter, it would actually lead to a crisis of confidence among the readership, and if the readership deserted, the share price for every shareholder would decline. …
After university, Conroy worked as an advisor to [federal Labor ministers] Ros Kelly and Barry Jones. He moved to Melbourne to pursue a political career where he met Robert Ray, and served for a time as Superannuation Officer with the Transport Workers Union and as a City of Footscray councilor.All this guy has done other than being a bureaucrat or politician, has been to hold a job for a while in a union. If Rinehart gets her three board seats, she would be well advised not to appoint Conroy to one of them. Still, she probably is not considering him for the role.
He was appointed to the Senate in 1996 when Gareth Evans resigned to contest a seat in the Lower House. In October 1998, Conroy joined the Opposition Shadow Ministry and became Deputy Opposition Leader in the Senate. He was Shadow Minister for Trade, Corporate Governance and Financial Services from 2003 to 2004, and became Shadow Minister for Communications and Information Technology in October 2004.