by KATE HUNTER
On the weekend my daughter, who’s nine, pointed to a picture in the paper of Gina Rinehart.
‘Who’s that lady and why is she everywhere?’
‘Her name is Gina Rinehart,’ I said, ‘She’s the richest woman in the world.’
‘Wow,’ said Annabel, ‘Does she have a lot of horses?’
My girl is at that age where pony-flesh is the only currency that matters.
‘I don’t know,’ I replied, ‘But I’m sure if she wanted to, she could buy all the horses she wanted.’
Annabel’s eyes shone. What a woman, I could see her thinking, what a life.
Time for Mummy to burst that bubble.
‘The thing is,’ I said, ‘I don’t think she’s very happy.’
‘Well, it seems her children don’t like her, she’s had three unhappy marriages and she’s more interested in buying newspapers and Western Australia than having ponies.’
‘Really?’ Annabel’s face twisted a little.
‘But if she bought Western Australia would she get all the horses that live there too?’
She’s like a dog with a bone, my girl. But I do love her, and I love these conversations over our Cheerios. I wonder whether Gina ever got to chat like this with her kids?
I got to thinking, much as I would love a squillion dollars (mainly so I could buy Annabel a pony), I think my life is richer, than Gina’s. Here’s why:
1) Everyday life is easier for me. It would be very hard for Gina, say, to buy a car. The salesman would see her coming, wouldn’t he? No way could Gina get them to throw in car mats and window tinting. No way, babe, forget it, you’re the richest woman in the world! When I recently bought a Suzuki Swift, my anonymity and last-season sneakers put me in a powerful position that saw fabric protection become part of the deal also.
2) All I have to do for my kids’ school fete is bake a cake and help with the newsletter. I imagine poor Gina was asked for all manner of help – everything from rides (can we use your chopper? The kids would love it!) And auction prizes (50,000 hectares of the Pilbara). How to say no? So awkward!
3) When you’re as rich as Gina, you have to pay more tax than most Australians. This is unfair, because if she gets sick it’s not like she will even USE our hospitals. There are perfectly good clinics in Switzerland to buy.
4) I quite enjoy buying the occasional Instant Scratchie and fantasizing about what I would do if I won $25,000. Or even $500. Such a thrill would be lost on Gina.
5) I bet Gina has never had that fist-pump moment when she found a ski jacket in Aldi that ACTUALLY FIT her six year old.
6) I know it’s the thought that counts, but on birthdays and at Christmas I like getting presents because it’s often stuff I wouldn’t… couldn’t… buy myself.
7) Gina has (probably) never done tuck-shop duty. And honestly, I wouldn’t wish it on anyone – but the moment it’s OVER is so sweet it’s all worth it. No number of seats on the Fairfax board could compare.
8) I never had the pressure of being anyone’s heir apparent. My parents took us to the beach once or twice a year. We dug a heap of holes. We never found any iron ore but I remember a lot of pippis.
9) My kids ask me to remember their pocket money on a Sunday night. They want it for AFL collector cards and Polly Pockets, not personal chefs and security.
10) There is something FANTASTIC about being read and listened to – online or in print – simply because what you have to say is interesting. Not because you own the paper. I have that.
Gina Rinehart, $18 billion, mining magnate and heiress of Hancock Prospecting
Kate Hunter is an advertising copywriter with over 20 years experience and one Gruen Transfer appearance to her name. Kate is also the author of the Mosquito Advertising series of novels. You can buy them here.
What are the things in your life that are better than money?