At the moment there’s alot of discussion about Gina Rinehart (Australia’s richest person) and her newly purchased 14% stake in the Fairfax Media company, which owns among others influential titles such as The Age and the Financial Review. ‘The Age’ is seen by many as being the Australian equivalent of the Guardian, while the Financial Review concentrates on economic issues, as its title implies. Fairfax has been making large losses for the past number of years (http://www.proprint.com.au/News/2683…ig-losses.aspx), prompting many to ask what interest Rinehart has in investing in this seemingly hostile group with little prospect of turning a profit.
The answer is actually quite simple. Rinehart has made her fortune as heiress to the Hancock mining fortune, and has extensive interests in coal mining, iron-ore quarrying and other mineral exploitation more generally. In recent years a number of unhappy new taxes such as Kevin Rudd’s Mining Resource Rent Tax and the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme, have damaged her economic interests. She is, surprisingly, a prominent climate change sceptic, and has paid for the climate denier Citizen (otherwise known as ‘Lord’) Monckton to come to Australia and the foundation of a denialist ‘think-tank’, ANDEV, Australians for Northern Development & Economic Vision.
It is surely self evident that Rinehart is buying shares to give herself a voice in the mainstream media (handy for both business and family affairs, given she’s in a huge legal battle with her children over trusteeship of the inheritance trust fund), but this saga of events has thrown spotlight on corporate ownership of the Australian media- despite its reputation as a leftist liberal media company, Fairfax is heavily controlled by corporate interests. This chart shows a list of some of the institutional shareholders:
|232,512,219 (9.90%) Marinya Media Pty Ltd
119,329,292 (5.10%) Orbis Investment Management (Australia) Pty Ltd
166,269,107 (7.10%) AXA Group
186,221,004 (7.90%) Commonwealth Bank of Australia
146,780,715 (6.20%) National Australia Bank Limited Group
136,691,699 (5.80%) Maple Brown Abbott Limited
Banks, investment funds and insurance companies are already heavily involved in Fairfax, and now the mining industry is sticking its oar in. This is an extremely worrying thing at a time when the fracking industry is gearing up to increase mass production in Queensland and south-Western Australia, and the mining industry is attempting to roll back the recent carbon tax and state guidelines which place stringent environmental controls.