Australia’s richest person, Gina Rinehart, has thrown her weight behind nuclear energy in her pitch for a net zero Australia that doesn’t rely on wind and solar.
At The Australian’s Bush Summit on Monday, Ms Rinehart delivered a sweeping six-point plan for the nation and called for the government to front the costs of farmers going net zero.
In the rare public address, the reclusive mining magnate also praised “king coal”.
She gave the speech just metres from WA Supreme Court, where she is being sued her two eldest children.
“Let’s not upset many farmers with bird-killing wind generators and massive solar panel stretches, and bring on clean, safe, nuclear energy please Australia,” Ms Rinehart told the audience of about 200.
She warned many Aussie farmers will not bankroll the shift to green energy because “agriculture usually doesn’t have the financial resources that the mining industry has.”
She added farmers should not be forced to invest more than $200,000 on equipment to meet net-zero policies, with “the rest to be met by the governments or waived.”
“Most farmers and others in agriculture just can’t afford net zero. They will have to leave agriculture with the consequence that Aussies will see huge food price increases and fresh food shortages,” Ms Rinehart said.
The billionaire also used the wide-ranging speech to call for more of the money generated by regional Australia to be reinvested there.
“Frankly we should have the best-equipped and most luxurious hospitals in Newman, Tom Price, Dampier, Cape Lambert, Port Hedland and in other mining towns, thanks to the revenue we create in the Pilbara and similarly in other mining areas,” she said.
“And ditto, see 24 hour, 365 days a year airstrips, so that the better equipped and fastest RFDS (Royal Flying Doctor Service) planes can always arrive and our people in the outback can be more safe.”
Ms Rinehart urged the government to encourage veterans, students and pensioners to return to the workforce by canning limits on the number of hours that can be worked before a person loses government benefits.
She reiterated calls for the establishment of low-tax special economic zones in Australia’s north, which she said would help to encourage investment in the bush.
Ms Rinehart spoke just 800 metres from WA’s Supreme Court, where two of her children are battling for a share of the iron ore wealth she inherited from her father, the late Lang Hancock.
The children argue the 69-year-old used her position in family companies, after her father died, to move interests in the Hope Downs mine out of a trust left for the benefit of her children and into her own control.
A lawyer for Mrs Rinehart’s children, Christopher Withers, said there was clear evidence of an “egregious scheme” in which mining licences were unlawfully transferred against Lang Hancock’s wishes after he died in 1992.
The court heard the billionaire also allegedly used racial slurs and tried to have her father’s wife and former maid, Rose Porteous, deported amid fears she would inherit shares in Hancock Prospecting.
Ms Rinehart has not yet appeared in court and the case continues.