The House of Hancock: The Rise and Rise of Gina Rinehart by Debi Marshall (2012). A review by John Cook

the-house-of-hancock

 

This book was a gift from a friend who read it and passed it to me – hence the old publication date of 2012. I, like many people, have always had some mild curiosity about the Hancock – Rinehart clan but tended to regard them as obviously obscenely wealthy, highly litigious and with a decidedly dysfunctional family and business history. I didn’t want to know much more though I watched the TV series based around this book and disliked it.

 

I must confess to a degree of interest in a woman whose finances are so clouded and convoluted that guessing her wealth (real and potential) seems to be something of an indoor sport for commentators with various sources reflecting current economic conditions and the fate of an amazing range of legal actions producing estimates that currently seem to edging toward the $20 billion mark with potential worth of even $100 billion.

 

Writing anything about such an individual is fraught with a degree of jealousy and wonderment at such a person yet, when compared philanthropically with the likes of Gates, Buffet and Zuckerberg, comparisons are difficult to make because of the simple fact that so much is simply unknown or concealed about the lady.

 

The book is a competent compilation of sources gathered over a long time with contacts within and without the family. It creates a useful timeline and gives some interesting insights into the character of Lang Hancock and his extended Pilbara origins. Likewise with Gina.

 

Reading the background and behavior of Lang and Gina tended to remind me of ‘Atlas Shrugged’ by Ayn Rand transplanted into the WA context. Old Lang’s approach was shared by Joh Bjelke-Peterson in whose world I grew up. I could understand (but not appreciate) Lang’s pro-development attitude but this clearly eventually became an obsessive state blinding him to a lot of external considerations others would value (particularly by Premier Charles Court, no white knight himself). His positions seemed to not that well argued but rather a case of ‘for or against’ his personal goals. The amazing scale of company litigation, the Rose Porteus cases and the saga of Gina versus her children over the Hope Margaret Hancock Trust trustee position has created an atmosphere of concealment and fear of any over-zealous inquiry.

 

While basically useful, the book lacks the kind of intimate detail that most would look for in such a biography and this is unlikely to happen in any publication that does not have Gina’s tightly exercised imprimatur.

 

In the absence of more useful information, I feel I know all I need to know to date and am not really all that curious about the house of Hancock – Rinehart except when it strikes out publicly and politically at anything that seems prejudicial to its own narrow interests.

 

 

 

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