"Red Tape to Red Carpet" Melbourne book launch – an attendee's response

19 April 2015
Duncan Russell
OK . . . I’ll come straight out and admit it . . . I’m a big fan of Gina Rinehart. . . but I haven’t always been.
Not that I’ve ever been a critic or detractor, but for years, I was like so many other ‘lost sheep’ who mindlessly followed the crowds and did,  said or thought what the media would guide us to believe. Without question, I consumed much of the gossip and lies spread about Gina via various media outlets . . . until about a year ago.
Something happened, the penny dropped and I found myself querying “Would that REALLY be true??” So I began to research things for myself.
Fortunately, with someone the calibre of Gina Rinehart, I didn’t have to look far on various search-engines before I found loads of information, much of it conflicting details I had previously accepted as being fact. The more I learned, the more intrigued I became. In fact many of the details that are rarely (if ever) reported in the media, paint a very different picture to the one commonly presented.
When I received her book, “Northern Australia and then some . . .” I guess I was hoping for a ‘warts & all’ autobiography, a bit like Richard Branson’s; and initially I was possibly a little disappointed when I realized her book is largely composed from a number of speeches she wrote and delivered between 2000 and 2012  . . . However, as I read the speeches by Gina Rinehart, I realized I was still getting a very close and personal insight into this woman – a mining magnate . . . an Australian legend.
It is an education as to the personal values, passion and vision Gina Rinehart holds dear.
The book is quite an eye-opener as to how much of a struggle she has put up to be successful, and how her success ultimately brings success for our country. Like the proverbial swan analogy: On the surface, everything  appears serene and effortless, however below the surface everything is moving furiously and productively.
Most Australians can tell you of her success, but how many even are aware of the amount of red-tape that needs be dealt with in order to create success?   It was a total, but welcome, surprise when I received an invitation to attend the launch of Gina’s second book in Melbourne on April 10th. As I reside in a small country town approximately 80km from Adelaide, I knew that neither my work nor social calendars would see me in Melbourne on that date. However, this was an invitation I was not prepared to decline. It would be an opportunity for me to see and hear one of Australia’s most important business leaders and, hopefully, glean a greater understanding of her.
On the morning of Friday 10th of April, I took a day off work, drove to Adelaide and boarded a commercial flight to Melbourne. Even at 50 years of age, I would have to say it was exciting.
Arriving on the 17th floor of the RACV Building I was confronted by a very ‘Melbourne’ social gathering: 450 elegantly dressed people sipping beverages and chatting. I knew nobody so I thanked the waitress as I took a glass of wine and made a bee-line for the outdoor terrace. It felt amazing to be there included amongst this invited gathering, many of whom were esteemed people from the political arena (both current and former), iconic Australian business leaders and celebrities.  Yet here was little-ol-me, too! As the sun set on a weather perfect day in Melbourne, glass panels on neighbouring skyscrapers caught the suns last rays and reflected them back across the city. It looked magic.
Even the auditorium itself is an impressive room with double-height ceiling and floor-to-ceiling windows on two sides bringing the panoramic views of Melbourne’s CBD, inside. Once settled in our seats it was not long until a wave of applause brought the audience to our feet as we welcomed Mrs Gina Rinehart to the room. From the moment I could see her I was most impressed by the sincerity of the welcome and embraces she extended to those closest to her ‘inner circle’. Immediately struck by the warmth in her smile, I found myself wondering why the media never seems to show pictures of this? A second ‘metaphysical’ wave swept across the room . . . this one leaving me with no doubt that I was in the presence of ‘greatness’.
Gina exuded poise, sincerity and humility as she thanked us for attending . . . The pleasure was truly mine! Surprisingly, she even seemed a little overwhelmed (but extremely grateful) at the size and reception of the audience; but there was no doubt, she was among friends.
It quickly became apparent she is totally comfortable in this forum, even displaying humour when challenged by the position of the tele-prompt and when responding to questions from the Hon Barnaby Joyce. Asked what was her favourite part of the book, Gina giggled before replying “finishing it!” with a  smile both disarming and enchanting.  This caused laughter to breakout amongst the audience. I found her smile infectious . . . the more she smiled, the more I found myself smiling.
Listening to Gina speak is an education. Her softly spoken voice doesn’t diminish the passion and conviction behind her words. She speaks softly, but everyone listens. It soon becomes clear that much thought, insight and common sense form the basis of what Gina has to say. Her vision is for the long-term betterment of Australians, not the short-term we often witness in politically inspired rhetoric. What she says makes sense.
I am extremely appreciative of being invited to attend the book launch, to see and to hear Gina Rinehart. Now, when I read my copy of “From Red Tape to Red Carpet . . . and then some”, I will be able to hear her voice through the written words. Her voice, her inflection, her passion and her commitment to this country.
Leaving the function in the same lift as another attendee, we shared experiences and admiration for Gina  . . . something we were still sharing on the sidewalk outside the main doors, half an hour later.
The following day I flew back to Adelaide and returned to my small country town.
This was an amazing experience for me. One I will long remember and one I will always appreciate. It is an evening I refer to as “my brush with greatness”.
I don’t think I will ever again blindly accept what I am told via the media. If the ‘first casualty in war is truth’ . . . then we must be at war because I don’t see much truth in the stories about Gina Rinehart.
Yes . . . I am now a fan. I thank her for all she is doing and wish her and those close to her, much success and happiness . . . because, not only have they worked hard and deserve it but, ultimately, her success is Australia’s success!
Courtesy of Duncan Russell

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