Public appetite for more details about the Rinehart family feud will be satisfied on Tuesday, June 26, with the release of the unauthorised biography of Gina Rinehart, Australia's and the world's richest woman.
The Rinehart legal tussle rages on as two of Gina Rinehart's children continue the mudslinging that started last week, with the latest rants provided by John Langley Hancock, who accused his mother of setting off the dispute.
Written by Fairfax Media journalist Adele Ferguson, the book traces the bitter roots of the court case that the three estranged adult children of Ms Rinehart has launched against their mother, who heads the trust established by the family patriarch, Lang Hancock.
The book's launch and release comes at a time that Ms Rinehart continues to attract public attention and scrutiny because of her attempt to gain a seat in Fairfax Media and its implication in journalistic freedom in Australia.
The book is titled the Untold Story of the Richest Woman in the World and published by Macmillan Australia. It is expected to be a hit as Australians attempt to know more details of the country's richest woman who was recently bagged the title world's richest woman in a span of few months.
Although court documents trace the ongoing family feud over control of the Hope Margaret Foundation, the trust set up by Mr Hancock for his grandchildren, some of the children's bitterness toward their mother stem from her alleged different treatment to offspring of her first and second husbands.
According to John Hancock, Ms Rinehart's only son and sired by her first husband, Englishman Greg Milton, the two daughters by Ms Rinehart's second husband - Frank Rinehart - were more favoured because of their perceived genetic superiority on account of their father's stature.
Mr Milton was a former taxi driver, while Mr Rinehart was a Harvard-educated tax lawyer. However, the book disclosed that Mr Rinehart was eventually convicted to tax fraud and found to have many skeletons in his closet.
"Again and again it was drilled into them they (Hope and Ginia - the Rinehart offspring) were superior, almost as if we (John and her sister Bianca) were adopted children whose future was to work in the grease traps," the book quoted John.
The different treatment was sometimes manifested physically, such as when John was 12 and his stepfather disciplined him by allegedly hitting his face.
"My mother's view would be, 'Let the ones who can't swim drown. Survival of the fittest - there can be no place for weak men," John recounted.
The bad relationship with his stepfather and mother eventually led to John dropping the Rinehart family name and adopting his grandfather's surname through deed poll when he turned 27.
Family feud is not new to Ms Rinehart who battled her father over Hancock Prospecting and eventually with Mr Hancock's second wife, and history is repeating itself with her ongoing court case with her three children, with only youngest daughter, Ginia, by her side.
The public has a glimpse of details of the family feud when the court rejected an attempt by Ms Rinehart to suppress publication of details of their court case. Among the new details which the book discloses is that the patriarch has his own favourites among his grandchildren - John and Bianca - to whom he left his shares of Hancock Prospecting.
However, the book quoted a family friend who revealed that each Rinehart child has the opportunity to be the favoured one, but eventually lost the affection.
"At different times each child has been the gold-haired child, then has a falling-out of sorts, or drifts away, and another takes the privileged sport. First it was John who was the chosen successor, then he had a falling-out, then Bianca, but she moved away, then Hope through her husband Ryan, and now Ginia looks to be the successor to the throne," the family friend said.
It is the withholding of the publication of such details as well as her possible used of media influence to dictate on editorial policies that is why the Fairfax board in hesitant to give Ms Rinehart, who has boosted her shareholding of the losing media firm to 19 per cent from 13 percent, a director's seat.
The Greens have sided with the Fairfax board and will introduce a legislation to prevent the billionaire's growing clout in Fairfax, with its board reportedly willing to open its door to the boardroom if she would not file lawsuits against directors and not use her seat to influence editorial policies. Even Foreign Minister Bob Carr has spoken against Ms Rinehart.
"I think Australians would be entitled to be very, very concerned. I think it would be impossible to separate her position as a controlling influence on the board, if it comes to that, a controlling influence, from the way the paper behaves," The Australian quoted Mr Carr.
Allan Gray, the second largest stakeholder in Fairfax, supports Ms Rinehart's attempt to gain a seat, but said she should not influence editorial direction.
"If they're not independent, people will cease reading the paper," Mr Gray was quoted by The Sydney Morning Herald.
The Herald has labeled the current negative image of the billionaire as Ginaphobia. The book is seen as likely benefiting from the negative press in terms of sales boost of the unauthorised biography.
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