Australia billionaire mutual admiration society reaches new heights

These pages have given up on trying to follow the riches to riches rise of Gina Rinehart, Australia's wealthiest person and supreme queen of coal and iron ore.

These days I pass on stories about the bitter family feud, the various lawsuits over royalties (is there an iron deposit in Western Australia that Rinehart does not believe belongs to Hancock?) or the campaign to split the country in two.

My interest reached a high point (or nadir if you look at it that way) when the larger-than-life personality pissed off people on two continents with one sentence with her wish that Aussies would become more competitive and be happy with $2-a-day like those hardworking Africans.

The fact that those weren't just off the cuff remarks, but part of a 10-minute prepared speech to the Sydney Mining Club, made me decide to let this ultra-rich pageant pass me by.

But then I was alerted by a colleague in Australia to this little nugget.

It's about mining innovation.

Nothing controversial about that.

In 2012 Rinehart set up a $50,000 prize for someone who "stands up for mining" and combats "far Left media attacks" on the industry.

Australia must possess many worthy candidates for such a prize who could use the money to further the cause ($20k is for personal use, but the rest must be put to work the rules say).

Not quite. The Telegraph reported this week that the lucky winner was Len Buckeridge, Australia's 17th richest person, with a family-controlled construction empire worth north of $2 billion.

Mr Buckeridge received the award (and the cheque) late last year amid "stiff competition" during a special ceremony where he was praised for his "long-term contribution to the sector".

He died from a suspected heart attack in March this year.

Attached to an iron boulder in a square in her beloved Perth, is Rinehart's famous ode to mining; or temporary foreign workers or special economic zones or something.

I leave you with her words (mine are failing me)

Our Future

The globe is sadly groaning with debt, poverty and strife
And billions now are pleading to enjoy a better life
Their hope lies with resources buried deep within the earth
And the enterprise and capital which give each project worth
Is our future threatened with massive debts run up by political hacks
Who dig themselves out by unleashing rampant tax
The end result is sending Australian investment, growth and jobs offshore
This type of direction is harmful to our core
Some envious unthinking people have been conned
To think prosperity is created by waving a magic wand
Through such unfortunate ignorance, too much abuse is hurled
Against miners, workers and related industries who strive to build the world
Develop North Australia, embrace multiculturalism and welcome short term foreign workers to our shores
To benefit from the export of our minerals and ores
The world's poor need our resources: do not leave them to their fate
Our nation needs special economic zones and wiser government, before it is too late.