Monckton, Rinehart and a plan to capture the Australian media

BACK in July last year in a boardroom of a western Australian free-market think tank, the extrovert British climate change sceptic Lord Christopher Monckton was holding court.

The topic for discussion? How to better capture the Australian media to help push a right wing, free-market and climate sceptic agenda.

At the time, Lord Monckton was in Australia at the behest of a mining association and Gina Rinehart to deliver a series of talks on climate change and spread his conspiracy theories that human-caused climate change is a left-wing plot to bring down the West.

At one point, Monckton told a boisterous partisan crowd: “So to the bogus scientists who have produced the bogus science that invented this bogus scare I say, we are coming after you. We are going to prosecute you, and we are going to lock you up.”

Lord Monckton had been invited to Australia by the iron and coal mining boss Rinehart, the country’s richest woman with a rising personal fortune in the region of $20 billion.

Hosting the meeting was the Mannkal Economic Education Foundation, a group chaired by mining “Hall of Fame” member Ron Manners to promote free-market ideals and low government intervention.

Manners is also a member of Gina Rinehart’s lobby group ANDEV, which has been joined by the Institute for Public Affairs to lobby for a separate low-tax low regulation economic zone for the north of Australia to make mining projects easier to develop.

It would be safe to presume, given Manner’s background in mining and the make-up of his staff, that this aim to lower government intervention would include any regulations and taxes on mining.

As far as its position on climate change goes, Mannkal’s website only appears to promote sceptical and largely debunked views on climate science, with links to many climate change denial websites which form part of a global network.

The Lord Monckton gathering, posted on YouTube [see UPDATE  below], had all the air of a strategy meeting.

“Is there an Australian version of Fox News?… No,” Monckton told the gathered group, which included Manners himself.

“Frankly whatever you do at a street level – which is what you are talking about here – is not going to have much of an impact compared with capturing an entire news media.

“You look at the impact that Andrew Bolt has had since he was rocketed to fame and – without giving away too many secrets – Joanne [climate sceptic Jo Nova] is going to end up doing quite a bit more on that channel if all goes according to plan.”

Just a few months after this meeting, Gina Rinehart finally secured herself a seat on the board of Channel Ten after buying up shares the previous year. Just before that meeting, right-wing blogger and Andrew Bolt was given his own show The Bolt Report on which to promote his climate “sceptic” agenda.

Rinehart is not averse to overt climate science denial herself, writing in a mining publication last year that she had “never met a geologist or leading scientist who believes adding more carbon dioxide to the atmosphere will have any significant effect on climate change, especially not from a relatively small country like Australia.”

Last night, it emerged that Rinehart had made a $192 million purchase of shares in Fairfax Media Ltd, giving her a 9.9 per cent stake.

Fairfax owns leading print and online newspapers the Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, the Brisbane Times (which I have worked for on a freelance basis), a suite of regional rural newspapers and popular city-based radio stations including 4BC, 4BH and 2UE and 3AW.

Commentators on the ABC are already indicating that Rinehart is looking to increase her influence on the public discourse through her media interests.

Back in the Mannkal boardroom, Monckton told the group that Australia needed to emulate the Fox news model from the United States and should target the “super rich” for some investment.

He also discusses working with Nova, a staunch climate sceptic blogger, and Andrew Bolt to “put together a business plan”.

“That is the way to do it,” Monckton continued. “You have to capture the high ground on what are still the major media and I think will remain so for some time and until we crack that one both in the UK and Australia, we are going to suffer from a disadvantage over and against the more libertarian-minded right-thinking people in the US who have got Fox News and therefore have got things like the Tea Party movement and therefore have at last put some lead into the pencil of the Republican party.

“It seems to me that devoting some time ad effort to encouraging those that we know who are super-rich to invest in perhaps even establishing a new satellite news channel – not an expensive thing to do – and getting a few Jo Novas and Andrew Bolts to go on and commentate – but keep the news fair, straight and balanced as they do on Fox.”

“That,” Monckton said to an approving board room, would “break through and give to Australia a proper dose of free market thinking”.

Whether or not Australia is about to get a further dose of free market climate denial through the outlets of Fairfax is now open to question.

UPDATE: This post is now on DeSmogBlog, with some added detail about a second video from this boardroom gathering.

UPDATE: This story is now also running on ABC The Drum.

UPDATE: Not surprisingly, Mannkal has now removed the videos in question from YouTube. However, community advocacy campaigners GetUp! have now released their own version of the first video, including some commentary and subtitles. Since the original is no longer available, I’ve replaced it on this post with GetUp!’s video.


Author: Graham

Graham Readfearn is a Brisbane-based journalist. Go to the About page in the top navigation for more information.

29 thoughts on “Monckton, Rinehart and a plan to capture the Australian media”

  1. Good piece Graham. The sad fact is that the Fairfax radio empire already indulges in climate denialism, and its hosts Alan Jones et al. are in the vanguard of the movement against the carbon pricing scheme.

    While I would hope that Fairfax’s newspaper titles will retain their editorial integrity, I imagine that if Rinehart gains a boardroom say in the radio department, a large part of her plan will involve simply ensuring that they continue to give Gillard, Garnaut, Flannery and the rest a largely unwarranted kicking.

    As for Monckton, well what can you say. He’s a cartoon.

  2. Would be perfect if not for a consistent spelling error. You have a habit of spelling “sceptic” with two c’s. FYI it is, in fact, spelt septic. This coincidentally sums up the entirely toxic influence the Gina Rineharts of this world are having on Australian public policy!


  3. Deeply concerning, and it would seem Rinehart listened to Monckton.

    In my view climate change scepticism is but one part of their world view.

    Whoever said the closing of the cold war was the end of ideology was incorrect – what we’ve seen is the emergence of a radical, libertarian ideology very much supported and driven by Fox News and News Ltd.

    And now we’ll see an attempt to see the poisonous politics of division introduced into Australia.

  4. Makes me laugh! What tools, and 10 years too late for a “mass media” campaign. I’ve met Jo Nova (real name Jo Codling). Comes across as a total nutter and a narcissist, and a cliched hack. I get the impression she’ll get involved with anything where people will listen to her (when she lived in Canberra she was in the ACT Greens, would you believe, doing PR, but they got fed up with her trying to shag their celebrity speakers and such like). I heard she drifted into the nuttosphere via the well trod gold bug route.

  5. Ah,Monckton, what a laugh! Fox News ‘fair,straight and balanced’? Roger Ailes would have kittens!

    Chumming up to the the working Aussie over carbon-pricing,falsely presenting /wishing himself as a scientist at public rallies,then sucking up to the constituency he aspires to,the super rich. However,they won’t be impressed with his figuring that establishing a satellite news channel is ‘not an expensive thing to do’. If it’s so cheap,Moncky,you do it. The man is a nitwit.

  6. GRAHAM…in the same way that anyone who criticizes Zionist ideologies may be incorrectly labeled ‘anti-Semitic’, people who don’t agree with the ‘global warming’ or ‘climate change’ scenarios foisted on us by, for example, the Club of Rome, who told us in their 1990 book that they were going to fabricate ‘global warming’…those words…in order to manipulate the world for the purposes of their agenda…we who don’t buy ‘global warming’ or even ‘climate change’ DO NOT NECESSARILY support the mining industry, rampant hydrocarbon consumption by SUV drivers or the military-industrial complex. YOUR ‘science’ is light years behind bro…if you know anything about statistics, you would realize how absurd it is to say that something as huge and various as the Earth can have an ‘average temperature.’ “Average” is a mathematical illusion and is not REAL. 2) “climate’ by definition is a LONG-TERM phenomenon. Climate occurs over decades, hundreds and thousands of years. 3) Lonnie Thompson himself (BING him, he’s the scientist whose work Al Gore misrepresented) says that it’s impossible to determine which comes first, the temperature or co2 spikes AND that there may be NO CAUSAL RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE TWO. Understand this? 4) ‘climate’ change is a GIVEN for this planet; we have been in a gradual warming trend for several thousand years. ALL OF THIS IS NOT TO SAY THAT HUMAN INDUSTRIAL CIVILIATION IS NOT WREAKING HAVOC ON THE ENVIRONMENT…it is but it’s the TOXICITY OF CHEMICAL SUBSTANCES and IONIZING RADIATION from SYNTHETIC RADIO-NUCLIDES that we need to be worried about, that and GMO’s and RADIO FREQUENCY ENERGY from microwave towers and mobile phones, not to mention technetronic weapons like HAARP which came on-line JUST AT THE TIME in the mid-90’s when the global tectonic and seismic ‘Earth changes’ elevated in frequency. HAARP mimics the sun, by design. It can do ALL the things attributed to ‘global warming.’ REMEMBER…


  7. Actually,Jeff#6,we have been in a gradual cooling trend since the mid-Holocene optimum,and now a relatively rapid warming has revealed,at numerous sites, organic matter and human artefacts that have been under ice for over 5,000 years. Many papers document these sites.

    A global average temperature IS a real metric,not a mathematical illusion,and physical changes-such as global scale retreat of glaciers- confirm what conventional and satellite thermometry record.

    HAARP citing is crazy talk.Please desist.

  8. Apparently Mr Wefferson can see no harm in having broadcast media concentrated in the hands of people with extreme right wing views. But at the same time he believes that the whole of the evidence for global warming derives from some conspiracy of the Club of Rome, and not from the 10,000 peer reviewed scientific studies examined by the IPCC. He’s very concerned about microwaves from towers being absorbed by the human brain, but not microwaves from the earth being absorbed by carbon dioxide. He’s even back with a footnote about hydrocarbons and all their derivatives (which of course includes CO2) which according to him are dangerous to life.
    He does seem rather selective in his paranoid delusions.
    Last but not least, if he must post here, could you request that he not shout in block capitals. It really doesn’t impress, but it does reinforce Nick’s suggestion of ‘crazy talk’ about HAARP (I admit I had to look that one up-High Frequency Active Auroral Research – 3.6 MW of ionizing radiation in the Arctic since 1993 – yep, I guess that would just about account for the melting of the polar icecap, Greenland, West Antarctica, and the warming of the top 1000m of the world’s oceans.)
    I guess all this makes him a fairly average septic (sic). Perhaps if he could just control the voices, and the radiation in his head…

  9. Amazing piece of investigative reporting Graham! Just submitted a piece based on yours to Huff Post. Should be up tomorrow.

    Sorry nutters, the science has been in for a while and now your media shenanigans have been exposed.

  10. Graham, let’s hear your solution for getting the world back to the “perfect temperature.”

    Please include all costs and benefits.


  11. Actually, hnnaah’s dad, he’s not a member of the UK House of Lords. He stood for election to one of the spots reserved for hereditary peers after Labour kicked most of them out, and received precisely 0 votes from his fellow peers.

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