EXCLUSIVE: Gina Rinehart did not approach Australian Story to profile her after legal battles and Nine’s miniseries.
The project was initiated independently by the ABC around 6 months ago.
“We embarked on the programme many months ago without any agreement from Mrs. Rinehart to take part. In fact it’s been very difficult to have her take part. We were really only given a short time with her. I hope we’ve made the best of it,” presenter Caroline Jones tells TV Tonight.
“People are constantly making rather horrible judgements about Gina Rinehart. So I think what we provide in the 2 programmes is an understanding of all the elements that have formed Mrs. Rinehart’s character. Whatever judgements one wishes to make eventually, it is certainly instructive to see all the influences of her formative years.”
Over two episodes, Jones says Australian Story will put context to headlines.
“We see a lot about the Hancock family in the newspapers these days, and much of it is sensational,” she says.
“What we’re doing in these programmes is to put the present day conflicts into a proper dynastic context. It’s the only way to make sense of them.
“John Singleton says “It’s a dynastic story of Shakespearean proportions.” It’s a very good description. It leaves the American program Dynasty for dead.”
Jones says Gina Rinehart is a sixth generation of a pioneering family.
“The first Hancocks were boat people –there’s a good headline- in this sense: they came up the West coast of Australia in a small vessel and had many adventures including a shipwreck. They went inland and established the first little town called Roebourne. The mother, Emma, became known as ‘the mother of the North’ because she became a kind of informal midwife to the other settlers and Aboriginal people,” she continues.
“So it’s a very interesting story from that point of view. It’s quite significant social history.
“We embarked on this project many months ago because we felt we’d identified a gap in the endless coverage of Mrs. Rinehart and the Hancock family, because we felt no-one had really put it into context.
“They’re a very significant family in Australian social history, and you actually can’t understand the court battles over the family Trust unless you go back over this history. It’s terribly exciting.”
Part One will focus on father Lang Hancock, who catapulted the family to fame and fortune when he discovered the largest iron ore deposit in the world.
“How he found the iron ore. How he made the first deal. He was such an extraordinary character. But why does all this matter? Because the relationship between he and his daughter –no son- Gina, becomes the person to whom he wants to hand on all that he’s established.”
Part 2 will include recent legal battles with the Hancock children.
“We will see appearances of them in Part 2 which comes more up to date, but still in a way that puts the present conflicts into an historical context, and thus I think offers the audience a new prism through which to view these events.”
The episodes, which include interviews with close friends John Singleton and Imelda Roche, right-hand man Tad Watroba and journalists Adele Ferguson and Jennifer Hewett, mark the second time Australian Story has profiled the Rineharts.
“You will see it as being very objective,” she insists.
“It’s trying to put the present sensational events surrounding Mrs. Rinehart and her children, the whole family story, into context so we can understand it.”
Australian Story: “Iron, Iron, Iron – The Hancock Dynasty“ 8pm Monday on ABC.