Rinehart's cash clash goes public

Gina Rinehart may be Australia's richest person, but it hasn't bought her happiness or – as the refusal of a suppression order shows – the privacy she craves.

The Power Index

Gina Rinehart may be Australia's (and soon the world's) richest person. But her $20 billion fortune hasn't bought her happiness or the love of her children.

Nor has it even bought her privacy. Last night the NSW Supreme Court knocked back a new demand to suppress details of the ugly battle Rinehart is having with her children over control of the trust that holds the family billions. And, in refusing the suppression order, the court published a series of revealing emails between Gina and two of her daughters.

One email from Hope Rinehart Welker, who lives in New York, begged Gina to send money for a cook, housekeeper, bodyguard and living expenses. "I would buy them myself," wrote Hope to her mother last July, "but I'm down to my last $60,000, and you're only paying my husband $1 a year".

"I should have enough money to have a bodyguard, housekeeper and cook," she continued. "Even my friends who have nothing compared to your wealth have more staff."

"I hate that we can't be happy and do our own thing and spend the holidays together." Hope continued. "I hate that everything is conditional. I'm tired and I don't want to fight and I just want to make the most out of everyday I have left."

Hope and her younger sister Bianca also complained to their mother that widespread publicity about Rinehart's massive wealth put them at risk of kidnap.

And this, indirectly, formed the basis of Gina's new application to have the legal case heard in secret. Her lawyers argued yesterday that revelations about her wealth would make her a target, and compared her to Victoria Beckham, murdered cardiac surgeon Victor Chang, and Mosman bomb hoax victim Madeleine Pulver.

To support the application, the court was given a lengthy affidavit from the Australian head of well-known security firm, Control Risks, detailing the alleged threats to Gina, Bianca, Hope and John (Gina's son). Codenamed Project Tara, it refers whimsically to the famous southern plantation in Gone with the Wind.

And that's what has now happened to the privacy Rinehart was craving. The affidavit was published in full on the Daily Telegraph's website this morning.

Quite why Rinehart or her lawyers at Corrs Chambers Westgarth thought they had any chance of winning this application is a mystery. Given that publicity about Rinehart's $20 billion fortune has been in every newspaper in Australia in the last few weeks, as well as in Forbes in the USA, and on countless websites, everyone on the planet already knew she was rich. It did not need a court case to tell them.

This seems to have been the reason Justice Michael Ball refused the application.

And it's a fair call: Rinehart reminded us all of the extent of her wealth earlier this week with her raid on Fairfax. She must have known about the publicity she was buying herself in the process.

This article first appeared in The Power Index on February 3. Republished with permission.