‘Things We Love’ Sydney launch, speech by Alan Jones

She is going to be embarrassed but I’ve known Gina for a long time – beautiful lady and I think she is most probably the greatest living Australian.

When people think of Gina Rinehart and they see the pictures in the book – it is a magnificent book – I’ll come to that in a moment. A magnificent book of the agricultural side of Gina Rinehart.

People have a perception of people that they are and always were what they are today. There was no royal road for Gina Rinehart – I can tell you.

She is authentically a girl from the outback, she knows everything that Murray was talking about and she knows everything that is chronicled in the book here – some lovely stories and of course recipes from people in the outback.

Let me tell you this – we are in a country where we allegedly extol the virtues of achievement, success, ambition and enterprise and as Bronwyn knows down here – only if you are on the right side of the political track. If you’re someone like Gina Rinehart on the other side well its convenient to ignore what she has done.

She has handled all of this often very persistent attacks against her, personal attacks, she handles this all with dignity. Her childhood bears no relationship to the public perception or what you see in the bush.

She told me years ago that her job as a little girl because I came from outback Queensland where there was drought and there was nothing, her job as a little girl she said was to do the windmill rounds. Now every farmer knows what windmill rounds are – you check the windmills and if the windmills aren’t working there’s no water and if there’s no water the cattle are in trouble so she had to do windmill rounds otherwise the stock would not be fed.

Her job as a little girl was to carry the tools and nuts and bolts and her dad go up the windmill as all our dads did to fix it up – there would be something wrong and the very demanding dad expected that Gina as a little girl would have the right tools, nuts and right bolts in the arsenal and he’s been screaming for the things down there and if she didn’t have the right nuts and bolts she was in all sorts of trouble.and had to go back down the long ladder and get the right ones. 

Her home in the middle of way, way outback and home was red dust and there was red dust on the veranda and she’s in bare feet – , bare feet, red dust and her job was to sweep the veranda twice a day to make sure they would get rid of the red dust and then go inside and sweep the floor twice a day – Gina Rinehart – no water outside, no gardens, no nothing.

She once told me about going in a taxi with her mother and she told the taxi driver not to take the scenic route because the scenic route would cost an extra 2 shillings, that is, 20 cents. They couldn’t waste it. She was taught to be frugal – she was taught money doesn’t drop out of the sky or grow on trees.

She admired the resilience of her dad because he was a creative person and a thinker and doer but she also admired the intellect, the capacity and commonsense application of her mother.

Roy Hill of course, the Roy Hill mine, is her baby – you don’t read about it other than to read negative things about it but she was told when her father died – we’ll come to that in a moment – and took over as Chairman of the company which was in all sorts of trouble – don’t touch this tenement she was told.

BHP had been here – at Roy hill,  – “there’s nothing of value there”. But Gina for some reason, believed that BHP was exploring and drilling in the wrong area so she ignored all the geological advice that she got and she went ahead. Everyone was saying Gina don’t go there.

Whether it was intuition, it was certainly guts and it was certainly a lot of application in the face of “experts and the critics” the daughter of the north stuck to her guns. She said hang on, we’ll take over this tenement and the job started. Many many times in the past and she’d do it today if she was here, she’d thank the 50,000 people she employed on the Roy Hill project.

Just imagine if there was someone today, anywhere in Australia, creating an enterprise where there were 5000 people employed – there’d be politicians from everywhere and there would be photo opportunities.

50,000 people. She said we’ll do it here. So she’s there in the middle of nowhere almost 400 kilometres from Port Hedland. She needed a railway line – Gina Rinehart built the railway line. To go where? Well to Port Hedland to a harbour, no berths, she built the berths. 7.5 million cubic meters of material excavated to a depth of 6 meters. But how did people get into the mine? You need an airport – she built the airport. She built the roads, she built the trains, she built the port, she built the infrastructure – 344 kilometres of rail line from Roy Hill to Port Hedland.

When Gina took over the Chairmanship of the company, the few remaining company assets were mortgaged to the hilt and under threat of legal claim – liabilities and contingent liabilities. The company was worthless. Cheques were being written and they were left in the draw and hopefully when some royalty payments came in the bills might be able to pay – very limited royalty payments back in 1992. 

Dividends payable under the constitution hadn’t been able to be paid until after Gina took the chair. Money she always learned didn’t spring out of the ground – this is 1992 she’s a young woman – she’s the youngest woman ever in Australia to chair a company – she was the youngest person in the company. You’ll never read that story, you’ll never hear about it talking today about gender equality and all this stuff – Gina Rinehart never gets a mention – 1992.

To get the mine going she negotiated with 19 of the world’s largest banks to get the deal over the line. She says she can’t dance, and she once told me she had to dance with the bloke who made the decision and had the money and she reckons she most probably got there because didn’t stand on his feet – she can’t dance.

Imagine though four large mine pits, 344 kilometres of railway line, 232 carriages per iron ore train, no train drivers – remote control. She had export markets to be met. She negotiated the largest commercial deal between Australia and South Korea in history, she awarded a construction contract for $5.6 billion dollars to a South Korean company to build part of the project.

This country is in her debt – this is but a small testimony to what she’s done. This is a great Australian – Gina Rinehart – by any reckoning.

I said 50,000 people worked on Roy Hill throughout the project, in the middle of nowhere – the Chichester Range in the Pilbara – 277 kilometres south of Port Hedland – as I said 50,000 people have got to be housed on the project and fed and Gina had to get over 4,000 regulatory approvals to get the mine constructed, even more for construction itself! going. Not 200 or 250 – more than 4000! 

Gina Rinehart’s many, many speeches and many, many essays on the bureaucratic red tape regulatory commercial and business environment are ignored – they should be compulsory reading for every person in Canberra. 4000 regulatory approvals. No one in Canberra listens.

And then, of course, today the story is agriculture. Everyone in 2016, I remember were talking about this massive land holding and beef business S. Kidman & Co and the threats were that this would be another asset that is sold, along with our avocado farms and our dairy farms and our water and our beef farms sold to overseas interests.

And as I’ve made the point many times, if you don’t own the country does it matter who runs it? So the real concern was going to be approved by the Foreign Investment Review Board, they never say no to anybody, and Gina Rinehart entered the scene and now of course in partnership she bought that and I’ll talk in a moment about the properties that are covered here.

Her charity work is beyond belief and gone beyond evaluation. She sponsors one of the Royal Flying Doctor Service planes – half a million dollars. She’s the Patron of the Olympic swimming team, the Olympic rowing team, the Olympic volleyball team and the Olympic synchronised swimming team. Has anyone ever heard of that? Do you read about it? Does anyone say thank you? Subsidising the taxpayer! She’s the sponsor.

She does have an Order of Merit from the Australian Olympic Committee and many, many international awards. She launched Australia’s first fleet of pink trucks and trains in support of breast cancer and other cancer victims and women. And now, the worlds first pink whims plant is in progress. 

But as I said, I’ve never seen Gina Rinehart’s name in a list of Australian honours. And now agriculture.

The book is about 22 stations and feedlots and property aggregations – 360,000 cattle. David will talk about that because he’s the manager of those agricultural assets. Kidman company – 118 years old and 170,000 cattle. Magnificent, internationally acclaimed wagyu beef – the 2GR brand – is Gina Rinehart’s stuff. I have a bit of an affinity here because I knew the Renshaw family very, very well and they had this glorious property at Boogadah and on page 27 and Dave from Boogadah made curried sausages and it was his recipe the curried sausages but that’s a sad story of farmers when a whole family becomes dysfunctional and Claude the eldest boy, magnificent human being, Claude and Jacinta I was at their wedding, and I remember ringing and suddenly Boogadah was suddenly was lost and the rest of it – beautiful country and I remember ringing Gina and saying look here’s a man you can trust with your left arm, your right arm and every other part of your body.

And so then on the South Burnett page, page 163, where he ‘s now doing work up there – Claude and Jacinta and that’s the South Burnett story on page 163 and some of Jacinta’s recipes so in a sense the wheel has come full circle.

There are magnificent stories – I love the story – there’s a story here on page 43 and this is the kind of influence that Gina Rinehart and the team have. Page 43 story is about Annette Parker and she was a school teacher and a principle in Tasmania and she writes beautifully about all of this on page 43 and she had this feeling she wanted to do something and she wanted change and she saw what we call we suppose today Governess, an advertisement for Governess on one of the Gina Rinehart Hancock properties.

And she said and anyway her husband yield and she writes about this because there are beautiful stories here and she says “we both come to believe that the safe option (because it was high risk – she knew nothing about the bush) isn’t the one that takes you places or gives you unique experiences – sometimes you need to take a leap of faith. We could only judge our next move on phone conversations but it was a gamble for my husband and I to join the idyllic surrounds of Fossil Downs.” She tells her story, as they all do here. She ends by saying “sometimes taking the biggest gamble is the only way to attain the biggest prize – a decision to come to Fossil Downs landed us the jackpot. Many things are accumulated during our life but experiences and memories are by far the most precious acquisitions in our hearts we have room full of all the things we love and we carry them with us everywhere and always when we leave the people and the place at Fossil Downs – will travel with us.”

So here are all these stories and recipes and all the rest of it and typically of Gina right at the end there are beautiful Christmas recipes at the end of the book is the end of the year. As I said to David, the only criticism, its not a criticism of the book, I think for people who are completely unfamiliar with this outback Australia and all these properties we should just put a little geographic description in as to where these properties exactly are and how big they are because this is basically a history lesson which offers wonderful bush recipes and we all know how important that is, when I came from there your mother had to cook or you didn’t eat. And all these women who cook and all these people here – you get the produce in from hundreds of miles away – you have to house and store it and all of these things are made and some of them are quite beautiful – creamy mushroom gravy, broccoli and cauliflower bake – its all here.

So look, you know I just hope that people will buy the book but not really for the recipes – buy the book for the stories. Buy the book for the kids – open it at just one page a night and there we are – page 75 and read that to them –what station life means to me, because everywhere you turn there’s a story. Obviously, the recipes are fantastic as well but this is a part of Australian history that should be celebrated.

Gina Rinehart is a remarkable Australian. She sends her apologies for not being here and David is going to read a note here but she writes just right at the beginning of the book here – lovely picture of Gina – and she says “to each and every station and farm manager, your families and each and every station and farm employee I appreciate you very much and all that you do. I loved my early life on our stations in the north and I hope that despite at times you’re faced with very difficult conditions,  you do too. You make a great contribution to our industry and our country which I hope you will always be proud of. I hope you enjoy our book. Please keep safe, with continuing thanks” and she dedicates to drought victims and to each person on the Kidman and Hancock stations, farms and feedlots.

So if I’m meant to launch this,  then I’m delighted to do that and in doing so I pay tribute to all the people who are part of the Gina Rinehart empire and to this lady who is an inspirational individual I regard as the greatest living Australian. I declare the book officially launched – “Things We Love.”