'Should I start with my Thatcher quotes?' Gina Rinehart charms David Flint in video interview

Mining billionaire shares pages of quotes from Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan in very odd video interview with homegrown conservative David Flint

Gina Rinehart really likes Margaret Thatcher. She also likes Ronald Reagan and in a bizarre 25-minute video interview she shares her page of quotes on each to the chortled delight of prominent Australian conservative David Flint.

“So should I start with my Thatcher quotes?” she asks, before rattling off six Thatcherisms and concluding that she was “a very clever lady, did much for her country”.

Another seven quotes, attributed to Reagan, follow. Flint beams.

Flint’s face is the only live video component of the interview. It took place last month while Rinehart was in Rio for the recent Olympics and the Skype connection between Flint’s office and Rinehart’s car, he told Guardian Australia, wasn’t strong enough to sustain a video signal.

It went without saying that you do not ask Rinehart, Australia’s richest woman with a fortune of $8bn built off iron ore mines in Western Australia and Queensland, to hover under the Wi-Fi of her hotel.

The interview began with a brief discussion about how terribly well Australia always does in the Olympics and how much we punch above our weight (although the 2016 medal haul was deemed the worst in decades).

It then moved, rather abruptly, to over-regulation, the change in topic heralded by a clipart of BIG GOVERNMENT with a line through it on the right hand side of the screen.

“I’m sure you would agree, Mrs Rinehart, that there must be something done to get rid of this waste and duplication,” Flint says, before throwing to the first quote from former US president Ronald Reagan.

Rinehart does agree and is very pleased that he’s mentioned Reagan, as it permits her to answer with a quote of her own.

“He also said that government’s view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases,” she said. “If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidise it.”

It’s unclear whether Rinehart had quotes on hand specifically in preparation for this interview or whether she carries them on her person at all times.

Regulation and Australia’s alleged determination to curb the growth of successful businesses, ie Hancock Prospecting, the mining company founded by her father which she now heads, is a favourite topic of Rinehart’s.

The interview moves to the “extraordinary number of permits and licences” needed for Hancock’s Roy Hill iron ore mine near Port Hedland in Western Australia (more than 4,000, she says) to the number needed in its Gailee Basin coal mine in Queensland (more than 5,000), before moving on to her plan for a special economic zone across all of Northern Australia to promote investment.

Most of Australia’s resource wealth is located in northern Australia, as are some of its most significant environmental and Indigenous heritage. But, Rinehart said, people need incentives to do business there.

“If a special economic zone worked as I do believe it would in the north then hopefully we could extend it further south,” Rinehart said. “It could certainly have benefits for an even wider area of Australia.”

Flint has the perfect example of an effective incentive in the decision of former Queensland premier Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen to abolish the death tax. They pause to praise Bjelke-Petersen as a premier who “had money in the kitty when he left,” somehow neglecting to mention the royal commission, the ministers jailed for corruption and the perjury charge.

While they talk, the right hand side of the screen provides a constant stream of messages in the form of bad graphics: NATIONAL DEBT, a soldier on a horse holding the Australian flags, COMPETITIVE PRICING, cows, milk, the word COSTS being cut with scissors, another pair of scissors slicing through red tape.

The video interview series is a relatively new venture for Flint. The prominent legal academic and constitutional monarchist has become more known in recent years for his conservative political commentary and a YouTube channel was probably a natural progression.

It arose out of a conversation Flint had with a man named Alan Metcalfe in Perth several years ago.

Metcalf is the chief executive of Safeworlds TV, an internet broadcasting venture that the Queensland-born Christian apparently started in 1983, then repurposed in the 1990s as a way to rebuild Russia, and now sees as a “digital Noah’s Ark” to help preserve “the prominently Christian middle class”.

It looks exactly as you would imagine an internet broadcasting venture started in 1983 to look.

According to its own website it hasn’t quite got off the ground.

Nevertheless, it does have offices on the Gold Coast in Queensland and a contractor in Baltimore, in the US, which Flint says handles the production of the video after he has prepared his interview questions and made the Skype call.

Flint said he saw the series as speaking to a section of society that are no longer represented by the mainstream media, which he said had moved to the left and created “a distinct gap for conservative views”.

“We do get them now that the Australian has swung back.”

Past interviewees include the Australian’s political editor, Dennis Shanahan; Family First senator Bob Day; Christian Democratic Party leader Fred Nile; and senator Pauline Hanson.

His list of ideal future interviewees are the “courageous” Hanson, again, and her One Nation stablemate, senator Malcolm Roberts.

“Malcolm Roberts is very interesting, very interesting … I would very much like to talk to him,” he said.


Calla Wahlquist

The GuardianTramp

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