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Gina Rinehart speaks
 

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50 YEAR HISTORIC COMMEMORATION SPEECH

 by Gina Rinehart

 22 NOVEMBER 2002

Distinguished Guests, Friends

On this day, 50 years ago, my mother and father climbed into their tiny Auster aircraft and took off from the bush airstrip my father had built at Nunyerry to fly to Perth.  But storm clouds were gathering.  They were forced to fly below storm clouds obscuring the top of the mountain range they had to cross.  Lang Hancock couldn't turn back – the clouds were closing in behind. Nor could he fly over the massive storm in his tiny aircraft. He flew downstream through the gorge route knowing that was the only escape for he and his wife.

Even in this life-threatening situation the observant prospector could not help but notice what looked to be solid iron in the walls of the gorge. Freshly wet by the storm the ore stood out.

Months later Dad returned by himself many times to sample these iron ore deposits, landing in the spinifex and taking samples over 50 or 60 miles.  He then had to get these samples some 1000 miles to Perth for analysis.  The analysis showed that they were 2% higher in iron than the ore being used in the blast furnaces in the USA.

The reserves my father initially found stretched for miles and he recognised that with this grade he had found ore reserves of world significance. 

Because of government restrictions Lang Hancock had to spend the best part of the next decade convincing the government that their iron ore export embargo was wrong. “Wisdom” of the time held that Australia had minimal iron ore reserves – the forecast was that iron ore would have to be imported by 1965.

Lang Hancock was the first person to observe and realise that in fact Australia could supply the total World consumption of iron ore for probably thousands of years. The 22nd November flight 50 years ago today directly led to the early development of the giant Pilbara iron ore province in West Australia.

This country has never looked back as they say - but it's high time we did so.   That flight changed my parents and our lives, and initiated a great wave of prosperity, which flowed to the State of West Australia, to the Federal Government, directly to companies and their employees involved in the industry, and invisibly, to every person in Australia.

            LET’S LOOK BACK TONIGHT AND HEAR THE HISTORY IN MY FATHER’S OWN WORDS.  I QUOTE –

“….. when you're right in the outback, you have to be self sufficient, you didn't have the luxury that you've got now, so if you were brought up in that atmosphere and the father before me brought up in that atmosphere, it gives you a sense of independence because if you don't look after yourself then nobody else is going to look after you.” 

 “In those days the only communication from the point of view of getting supplies, were wagons which used to come out every four or five or six months, they were camel wagons.  The conditions were a bit too rough for horses, but the camels used to drag the wagons out.  The flour was a bit weevilly, a case of jam was a luxury, there was no butter, but there was of course plenty of meat.  And vegetables were grown.  People were very self reliant in what they couldn't bring from civilised areas, they made and did for themselves".   

 "… everything comes out of the earth, you either mine it or you grow it and you can't even grow anything until you first of all mine the tools of trade and the phosphates and the things that are necessary for agriculture, you've got to start with the earth".

PLEASE JOIN WITH ME IN WATCHING MY FATHER DESCRIBE THE DISCOVERY FLIGHT (INSERT, FILM FOOTAGE OF DISCOVERY FLIGHT)

            “In November of 1952, I was flying down south with my wife Hope, and we left a bit later than usual and by the time we got over the Hamersley Ranges, the clouds had formed and the ceiling got lower and lower.  I got into the Turner River, knowing full well if I followed it through, I would come out into the Ashburton.  On going through the gorge in the Turner River, I noticed that the walls looked to me to be solid iron and was particularly alerted by the rusty looking colour of it, it showed to me to be oxidised iron.”

“MY FATHER FURTHER EXPLAINED, QUOTE

I was able to trace with the plane that this ore body went for 70 miles and I followed it along in the plane for 70 miles and I had just assumed that seeing that Australia officially had no iron ore in it, that it must have been low grade and a lot of rubbish.  So I managed to buck myself down in a patch of spinifex, if it wasn't so thick in the little plane I could walk across, took some samples and to my surprise they were 2% higher than the standard blast furnace feed in the mightiest nation on earth, the United States, so I knew that it was not only large, but it was high grade."

“Well at that time there was a Commonwealth embargo on the export of iron ore because it was thought that Australia only had about 30 years life or so of iron ore. …”

“It was the same old story, the myth about Australian iron ore was deeply ingrained in the politicians and power brokers of the day.  There was no progress and an almost stultifying inactivity pervaded”.

“…. well when we found out that the blanket was going to be lifted, we got in touch with Rio Tinto and got backing from their Managing Director and then we sent some ground parties headed by Bill Newman.” 

IN A MOMENT WE WILL SEE FILM FOOTAGE OF BILL NEWMAN, A PERSON WHO AS DAD SAID WAS IN CHARGE OF THE GROUND PARTIES WHO PEGGED MY FATHER’S DISCOVERIES AND WHO HAD TO SIT WITH A SMALL BAND OF MEN LONELY AS LIZARDS FOR APPROXIMATELY 6 MONTHS IN THE PILBARA WAITING FOR THE STATE TO FINALLY LIFT ITS PEGGING BAN.  THIS REAL FRIEND OF MY FATHER’S, HIS COUSIN, BILL NEWMAN, SHOULD BE REMEMBERED PROPERLY IN HISTORY(FILM EXTRACT SHOWN ON THE SCREENS)

“The flies ….and mosquitoes at night used to carry you away.   It was a bit tough but it was alright.  It was exciting - the enthusiasm that Lang showed, you couldn't help but to be taken up with that enthusiasm and I've prospected most of my life as Lang said, to be on a thing which was world class I suppose is the dream of every prospector to have an Eldorado.”

MY FATHER EXPLAINED – AGAIN I QUOTE

“Well people knowing this throughout the world, people interested in iron ore, knew that there was no iron ore in Australia and here was I, a boy from the bush, no experience, no education, no letters after his name or anything, trying to tell them that I'd found by far the world's largest iron ore deposits, a whole field actually and you know, 30 or 40 firms throughout the world said "run away, it's a lot of rubbish".

“Unbeknown to me, they rang up what was then known as the Bureau of Mineral Resources in Canberra and Doctor Argot, the head of it, said Hancock's talking through his hat, we've done a magnetometer survey of all that area and there's nothing there.  So then they came back to me and I said well look if there's nothing there you pay me a royalty - if there's nothing there it doesn't cost you anything.”      

 PLEASE JOIN WITH ME IN WATCHING FOOTAGE OF MY FATHER

“Well, Rio Tinto Melbourne, they kept dithering and so on, and I said now look you're going to lose this whole box and dice if you don't side up to the Western Australian Government, you've really got to have a few guts and come in.  So they came over and I teed up a meeting with the Premier, Mine Minister Griffiths and Court, got them in the door and then they said, well this is a courtesy visit, so I could see that we were not going to get very far.  So the relations became more and more strained with Melbourne, the harder and harder we thrashed, and the more rows we had, and the harder we drove them to accept such a bonanza.”      

“I found out that the power lay with a chap named Duncan in England.”

SIR VAL DUNCAN WAS THEN CHAIRMAN & CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER OF RIO TINTO(FILM EXTRACT SHOWN ON THE SCREENS)

“We found a great deal of iron ore, this was brought to us in the first instance by Lang Hancock, who is a, very well known pastoralist in Western Australia and who had been staring at iron ore a long time from his Hamersley doorstep and we came to an arrangement with him, and his partner Peter Wright, as a result of which they lead us to very important Iron Ore resources.”

PETER WRIGHT, DAD’S FRIEND AND PARTNER OVER MANY YEARS SAID - (FILM EXTRACT SHOWN ON THE SCREENS)

 “Mr Price had 3 or 4 hours over and around it with Lang and when he came back he was so carried away that everybody else was carried away with him and from then on, there wasn't any question that it was one of and probably the greatest fields of iron ore in the world.”

MY FATHER EXPLAINED – I QUOTE –

“They were lucky to get it because, and several times after it, big firms around the world said to Val Duncan "you're a damn fool to pay Hancock and Wright that royalty - we wouldn't have ever done it" and Duncan said "no, and you wouldn't have got Hamersley Iron either!”

ANOTHER MAN WHO HAS NOT RECEIVED THE RECOGNITION HE IS DUE, ALONG WITH A HANDFUL OF OTHER SENIOR KAISER EXECUTIVES, WHO CONTRIBUTED IMMENSE EFFORTS TOWARDS GETTING HAMERSLEY IRON UP AND RUNNING IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION AND TOM PRICE INTO PRODUCTION IS DICK BARBER OF KAISER STEEL.  I QUOTE FROM A LETTER DICK BARBER WROTE IN 1966

“Australia is fortunate to have such a man able to contribute to the development of its natural resources.  More than any one man, Lang Hancock is responsible for the Hamersley Iron development.”

“Lang Hancock personally discovered large quantities of iron ore in the Hamersleys as early as 1952, prior to the lifting of the embargo.  He collected samples and had them analysed.  He knew he had made major finds, which could well alter the world pattern of iron ore supply.  From the start he had a vision, the comprehension and the faith that was required to set the stage for the development of these resources on a scale commensurate with their value.  He thought in world terms, rather than in just national.  It is this early comprehension of the order of magnitude of the scene yet to unfold that set him apart.”

“He studied the world ore picture.  He mastered the basic statistics.  He noted the methods used.  He was shrewd enough to realise that he needed help in bringing his dream to fruition.”

“A great believer in the individual and what he can accomplish on his own, Lang exerted his considerable influence and strong sense of direction toward lifting the embargo and encouraging iron ore development by private enterprise.  He did much to ensure that an economic climate in Western Australia, conducive to the large inflow of capital, which he knew would be required, was established.  At times his efforts on behalf of his state and country cost him personal popularity.”

“Lang took Tom Price in hand when he went over to examine the ore deposits.  He flew him about showing him the ore and talked to him.  A great deal of Lang’s contagious enthusiasm and appreciation of the potential involved rubbed off on Tom.  Lang exerted himself in every way to help Kaiser fit into the picture.  Our company owes him a deep debt of gratitude.  Our participation in Hamersley Iron has made Kaiser Steel a larger and far stronger company.”

“…without Lang Hancock there would be no Hamersley Iron.”

There are quite a few of us here tonight who have, like my children and myself, personally been on Pilbara trips with my father.  If all of us here tonight had been able to be on a Pilbara visit with Dad today to mark this 50 year historic occasion, we would have been up by 6am and heading to one of Dad’s aeroplanes. We would have started with an airborne reconnaissance of the Pilbara.  We would have flown along the central down-hill railway route, and deep water port site near Ronsard.

In the 1960’s my father proposed shared central infrastructure and convinced the world’s most successful man at the time, Daniel K Ludwig, to back this financially.  Had this not been blocked politically, West Australia would have been placed in a competitive position for it’s iron ore export second to none in the world.

We would have also seen from both the air and the ground various of Dad’s discoveries, some of which, for instance Tom Price, Paraburdoo, Channar, Marandoo, Brockman and West Angeles have now all become world class mines.

We would have had our sandwich and coffee breakfast in the air and then some more for lunch later on, but lunch would have been on one of the deposits themselves, where if we were lucky we could have found some 110º shade.  No matter how remote these picnic spots were, the bush flies would have found us!

But Dad loved this area and it is likely this day’s tour may have also included a visit to Mulga Downs sheep station which my father worked for many years and has been in our family for four generations.  Also perhaps one of the spectacular beautiful gorges.   During the day we would have seen many kangaroos, some emus, maybe some bush turkeys, some pink and grey or white cockatoos, top knot pigeons and perhaps run over some snakes.

But for sure, we would have bumped for many miles along roads that are bush tracks, up and down and along iron ore deposits and we would have received real education every hour we did so.

We would have then returned to the Fortescue hotel or Settlement and got rid of the red dust we would be covered in.   I have been told by many guests after such enthusiastic tours of this iron ore country that they were greatly pleased to be back on land again, after seeing iron ore deposits at extraordinarily close range, a wing span or two away from our aircraft’s window!  We would then join Dad in the garden he loved at the Settlement, which is surrounded by the walls of the gorge.

Tonight, we are not surrounded by the walls of the gorge, but as we dine, at my parents’ Perth home on this historic day, we are instead surrounded by film footage of the Hancock Ranges, named after my father and my father’s forebears who pioneered the remote and rugged and difficult North West and built the first town and port in the Pilbara.

After dinner up north, we would sit in the gardens and Dad would show several documentaries – “Digger in a Million”, “Dig a Million Make a Million” and “Man of Iron” that we have here tonight.  These films will be shown all through the night in the main garden, including some more personal ones on the front balconies.  I invite you after your dinner to enjoy these films.  They can tell you more about my father and the ruggedness and uniqueness of the area than I can convey.

I would now like to ask all those who joined with my father on any of his trips to the Pilbara to please stand up, -  and to please join with me in making this toast to an Australian, the individual who has contributed more to this country than any other single person I know of – to Lang Hancock.

CONCLUSION

Dad could have taken his hard earned money and retired to 'the good life' wherever he chose in this world, thousands of miles away from any destructive media and the jealousy they wrongly inspire.  Instead he chose to invest his wealth and his life in this country, to explore and develop his beloved Pilbara and to attempt to educate his fellow Australians regarding the advantages of free enterprise over central planning and the “sound good” but impractical socialistic utopian government policies.

Dad’s logbooks record that he spent over 7,000 hours (the best part of a year), airborne at the controls of a single or twin-engine aeroplane.  He developed the technique of finding minerals from the air and became Australia’s first aerial prospector and its most successful.  There were no aircraft maintenance mechanics or facilities in the remote Pilbara –  so - my father built his own workshops at Mulga Downs Station and Hamersley Station and obtained qualifications to service and maintain the first 14 of the 23 aircraft he purchased over the years.  He qualified as a jet pilot at the age of 65.  By then he could afford to have his aircraft, his work-horses, maintained and stabled by others.

He flew hundreds of people into the Pilbara and personally showed them a land he knew like the back of his hand. Captains of industry and commerce, Prime Ministers, Premiers, Cabinet Members and politicians of all persuasions, reporters and many others were guided over and across the vast and then largely untapped North-West.    I hope that those who made these trips will never forget what they learnt and will use well this special knowledge. 

My father founded newspapers, wrote editorials, published more papers than most professors, and gave keynote speeches.  His education at Hale School served him well, but he was also a self educated man and kept himself remarkably well informed. He was a voracious reader and his many nights in the North-West were well spent reading, writing and thinking. He was a teetotaller. His decades of business partnership with Peter Wright, his friend from their schooldays, was honoured by both without a written agreement for most of their long and productive lives. Numerous setbacks were accepted with stoicism and these resulted in an even greater resolve in his truly remarkable life.   We have so much to learn from this Australian.

There are many people who were important in Dad’s life, none more so than my Mother.  My family and I are so pleased to see so many of these people from many aspects of my father’s life, including guests from overseas, Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania, here to commemorate tonight.  I cannot mention everyone, there are more than 700 people here, but I would like to add my thanks for the wonderful people who have worked very late hours to make this historic occasion possible - especially our cousin Deborah, Barry, Andrew, Di and Sue - thank you so much.  And as always, our Hancock Prospecting staff.

November 22 is also St Cecelia's Day, and St Cecelia had a spirit which my father admired. On trial for her life for upsetting the government of the day, she told the judge she had 'no intention of obeying a crazy law'.  She was right and they were wrong, but she died on his delivered judgement.  We remember her but who remembers the judge?  St Cecelia is now remembered as the Patron Saint of Music and later tonight we will listen to some of my father’s favourite music.

However a more lasting tribute to my father will be when all of us gathered here tonight to commemorate this history, return to our homes and offices resolved to tell our children, our relatives, our friends, our associates, our politicians and the media about Lang Hancock, what we can learn from his life and contribution to this country and the spirit of Australian free enterprise which he represents.  Please, let us maximise the impact of the enthusiasm, which is in the air tonight.

I am proud of my wonderful parents.  I am about to call on, Deborah Kooperman, John & Bianca Rinehart, also Mr David Smith and John McRobert to read out messages from a few people who could not be with us.  John & Bianca will then represent the four grandchildren in proposing a toast to their grandparents, Lang and Hope Hancock.

Please join with our family in commemorating Lang Hancock and his unequalled contribution to this State and our great Nation.

 

Thank you.

 

 

 

 


 

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