Gina Rinehart is Australia’s richest – and most controversial – billionaire. The mining magnate became the richest woman in Australia in 2010, the richest person in Australia in 2011, and the richest woman in the world in 2012 (ahead of Walmart widow Christy Walton), with an estimated net worth of nearly $30 billion.
The 59-year-old heiress of Hancock Prospecting (daughter of mining magnate Lang Hancock) has seen her inherited fortune swell thanks to high iron ore prices, rising exports to China and a deal signed early last year that will see South Korean steel giant Posco take a 15% stake in her yet-to-be-developed Roy Hill iron ore mine in Western Australia. In 2011, Citigroup projected that Rinehart is on course to overtake Carlos Slim, the Mexican magnate worth $69 billion, primarily because she owns her companies outright and does not have any shareholders. The widowed mother of four has invested in various media companies in what many Australians regard as Rinehart’s next step in advancing her agenda against Australia’s mining tax.
For someone who is supposedly sophisticated, attempting to manage (control) the public’s perception of her, Rinehart is doing, what the highbrow crowd may describe as, a piss-poor job. She is perceived by many to be a joke. Rinehart has effectively demonstrated repeatedly that she is completely out of touch with reality (figuratively speaking) and seemingly clueless (as any person who was born in the extreme wealth would be expected to be) in her ability to relate to the common man and woman.
Just over a year ago, while she was lobbying to reduce the minimum wage in Australia, Rinehart lashed out at her detractors with the following ignorant and offensive remark: “If you’re jealous of those with more money, don’t just sit there and complain. Do something to make more money yourself – spend less time drinking, or smoking and socializing and more time working.” Spoken like a true aristocrat… or someone who has been so blessed, she has not had to confront to realities of contemporary adult life or sought gainful employment.
Rinehart also sparked controversy (again) last year when she compared wages in Australia’s mining industry to cheap labor in Africa, where workers earn less than $2 a day. Even Australia’s Prime Minister had to weigh in on that obscene comment. Rinehart has called for fewer regulation and taxes (“less red and green tape,” as she puts it) to prevent losing mining investment from international firms in favor of cheaper operating costs in Africa. And while that last comment may be true or at least fair game, one cannot overlook the conflation – in Rinehart’s political arguments – of what she insists is the national interest in her own commercial investments. Beneath that patent cynicism, cunning, self-promotion and attempted manipulation, is an element of honesty. Rinehart honestly believes that she and her fellow billionaires know best.
It should come as little surprise that Gina Rinehart made headlines again. This time it’s about wind power – and her calls for action against it (she also thinks Australia should address its debt by having non-violent prisoners pay money in lieu of going to prison and for governments to sell their art and decor). In a recent article in Australian Resources and Investment magazine, Rinehart has urged Australians to “speak out” against wind power. Like a hard-hitting journalist, she used a conversation she had with a Dutch cab driver (she takes cabs?) to begin her argument about concerns around the use of renewable energy.
“He (the cab driver) advised that most people now don’t like higher taxes due to building such new power, and especially don’t like the increased power costs out of their own pockets, and also the consequences to industry, with industries closing down in Holland and moving elsewhere,” said Rinehart. “He said people in Holland now wished they hadn’t incurred these cleaner power burdens. Shouldn’t we be speaking out and letting our politicians know?”
Obviously, a cab driver’s opinion is as valid as anyone else’s… but one of the world’s richest industrialists should be able to make an effective and compelling argument for a supposed legitimate issue, without the need of a chauffeur to help make it for her.
Ty Facts on the Pros and Cons of Wind Power:
– Advantages of Wind Power –
- Wind is free and an abundant source of renewable energy.
- Wind energy is the cleanest form of renewable energy and is currently used in many leading and developing nations to fulfill their demand for electricity.
- Modern technology can effectively capture wind and there are significant technological advancements are being made and existing turbines are generally upgradable.
- Although wind turbines can be very tall (I pass a ginormous one every day on way into work in Toronto) each takes up only a small plot of land. This means that the land below can still be used. This is especially the case in agricultural areas as farming can still continue.
- Many people find wind farms an interesting feature of the landscape.
- Remote areas that are not connected to the electricity power grid can use wind turbines to produce their own supply.
- Wind turbines have a role to play in both the developed and third world (the industry also creates jobs).
- Wind energy reduces fossil fuel consumption and results in less air and water pollution.
- Wind turbines are available in a wide range of sizes (which means a vast range of people and businesses can utilize them). Single households to small towns and villages can make good use of range of wind turbines available today.
- Wind turbines – on occasion – kill geese.
– Disadvantages of Wind Power –
- The strength of the wind is not constant and it varies from zero to storm force.
- Wind can never be predicted. This means that wind turbines do not produce the same amount of electricity all the time. There will be times when they produce no electricity at all.
- Many people feel that the countryside should be left untouched, without these large structures being built. The landscape should left in its natural form for everyone to enjoy.
- Wind turbines are noisy. Each one can generate the same level of noise as a family car travelling at 70 mph. This reason alone is why wind farms are not built near residential areas.
- Visual impact. Many people see large wind turbines as unsightly structures and not pleasant or interesting to look at. They disfigure the countryside and are generally ugly.
- Wind turbines are suited to particular regions, mainly coastal regions which receive wind throughout the year. Some countries may not be able to take advantage of wind power (absence of hilly or coastal areas).
- When wind turbines are being manufactured some pollution is produced (it’s minimal); therefore, wind power does produce some pollution.
- Large wind farms are needed to provide entire communities with enough electricity. For example, the largest single turbine available today can only provide enough electricity for 475 homes, when running at full capacity. How many would be needed for a town of 500,000+ people? It should be noted that this wind power technology is, relatively speaking, still in its infancy.
- Wind turbines are not suitable for some locations.
- Wind turbines – on occasion – kill geese.