House of Hancock: In defence of Gina Rinehart

Note: At the time this story was written, Gina Rinehart was a shareholder of Fairfax Media, the publisher of this website.
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As a relatively young, slightly left-leaning journalist with only a rudimentary understanding of the business world, I might not be your typical Gina Rinehart sympathiser.

Maybe sympathy is the wrong word, but it seems to me there’s a culture of “Gina-bashing” out there, when I’m not sure it’s entirely warranted.

Is it just my generation? Is it just my fellow West Australians? Is it a classic case of tall poppy syndrome?

Sure, she inherited a lot of money from her late father. Whatever your thoughts on how she has managed her fortune, she hasn’t squandered it, but rather built on it and earned her place among the world’s richest people.

For a whole host of reasons, there are fewer women at the top of the corporate chain, never mind those who are mothers as well. That’s something to admire, right? Or at least, not hate on her for?

Strip away the fortune and there’s a lot more. This is a woman who has lost her parents, a husband and has a difficult relationship with some of her children.

Other than that, we don’t know her. The only interaction the public seems to have with her, rightly or wrongly, is when she’s in court battling with family members, if there’s an incident at one of her company’s mine operations, or if she says something unpalatable to the average Australian.

Rarely, we hear something nice about scholarships in some faraway land, or some other philanthropic effort which doesn’t immediately spring to mind, but they must be out there – you tell me.

Opinion is divided among my little circle. The prevailing feeling, without ever having had anything to do with the woman, is that she’s ruthless, litigious and difficult to work with, to put it politely. Others I have spoken to describe Mrs Rinehart’s kindness, selflessness and passion for the country she calls home.

The truth is, we don’t know, but I suspect the real Gina lies somewhere in the middle. Everyone wants to love and be loved, and I can’t imagine Mrs Rinehart is any different.

Do I like some of her business and political decisions? No. Do I like the fact that money can buy influence? Absolutely not. But I haven’t walked in her shoes and can’t help but cringe when some think to judge Mrs Rinehart for her looks, rather than her actions.

By all means, no one is perfect, but the devil incarnate does not walk among us either.

Even the actress tasked with playing the mining magnate in House of Hancock doesn’t have a lot to work with in bringing her “character” to life.

“Here’s a woman who was basically her father’s business partner since she was 12. She hasn’t really had the childhood or the backpacking experience that most of us have to discover who we are,” actress Mandy McElhinney told Perth radio station 96fm.

“[Rinehart] lived an incredibly rarefied life, it’s hard to really understand. Most of us have normal lives where we discover our own destinies and have to scrape a bit of money together to get ahead.”

“I’d be really interested to hear what [Rinehart] thinks… but don’t worry, I’ve checked with my lawyers.”

And so, I’d urge viewers to watch House of Hancock with a grain of salt. As thoroughly researched as the production is, some creative licence would had to have been used when it comes to the intensely-private Mrs Rinehart.

While it would be disrespectful to gloss over her joys and her sorrows, there is something a little odd in knowing that a human being’s life (and dirty laundry) is being aired for the enjoyment of others.

No doubt, it’ll be a ratings bonanza, but I’m a firm believer that there’s no true delight in recounting someone else’s misery.

Just a disclaimer, too. No one asked me to write this article, so if you think I’m part of some wider pro-Gina conspiracy, please think again.

House of Hancock will screen on Channel Nine this Sunday, February 8.

At the time this story was written, Gina Rinehart was a shareholder of Fairfax Media, the publisher of this website.Follow WAtoday on Twitter

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