If a person is known by the company they keep, new documents provide a rare glimpse at the real Gina Rinehart.

The unfathomably rich boss of Hancock Prospecting has been the focus of intense speculation since she branched from mining into mainstream media, buying large stakes in Fairfax Media and Ten Network. What makes these purchases so interesting is that she refuses to discuss them ― at all.

Now, though, documents tucked away on the website of Rinehart's little-known mining lobby, Australians for Northern Development and Economic Vision, uncloak the secretive billionaire's inner-circle. And with links to hardline climate sceptics, WA secessionists and fiery anti-immigrationists, Rinehart might bring a more radical agenda to Fairfax and Ten than anyone has guessed.

ANDEV, established quietly by Rinehart earlier this year, publicly calls for the creation of a new miner-friendly economic zone in the north of Australia, where resources companies would be exempt from a number of taxes and be allowed to bypass immigration laws to import cheap foreign labour.

But behind the scenes its close-knit membership, including powerful rich-listers such as Hans Mende and Hugh Morgan, reads like a who's who of ultra-conservative business.

Ian Plimer is perhaps ANDEV's most controversial operative. As well as being director of CBH Resources and Ivanhoe Australia, he is also a global poster boy for climate change scepticism. His fierce rejection of manmade global warming, Heaven and Earth, is an independent best-seller.

Plimer, who is lauded by conservatives including Opposition Leader Tony Abbott and Britain's Thatcher-era chancellor of the exchequer, Nigel Lawson, has toured the world preaching that climate change is caused by volcanoes and solar flares – most notably at last year's Copenhagen summit, where he crashed the main event as the star guest of sceptics group, Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow.

Hugh Morgan is another ANDEV member who rejects mainstream climate beliefs. The former Reserve Bank board member – who headed the Business Council of Australia, and Western Mining before it was snapped up by BHP Billiton in 2005 – also maintains links to the controversial HR Nicholls Society, which advocates extreme industrial relations deregulation. Morgan remains a major donor to the Liberal Party and is one of its most vocal members.

Followers of Pauline Hanson will also remember John McRobert, who served as her advisor during her time as leader of the nationalist One Nation party. McRobert, the man behind One Nation's much-derided 2 per cent Easytax, has been campaigning against company, income and profit-based taxes for decades. Not only is he closely involved with ANDEV, he's also said to be one of Rinehart's closest confidants.

Rinehart is also joined by Ron Manners, a veteran miner and a friend of her father, the late mining magnate Lang Hancock. In an interview with Business Spectator, Manners links ANDEV to a rising secessionist tide in Western Australia, part of what he calls a “peaceful revolt” in the mining states. He believes WA, the Northern Territory and Queensland should simply stop sending royalties to Canberra.

Manners likens Rinehart to Hancock, who was also fond of using his mining wealth to buy influence. In the 1970s he founded two newspapers, the now-defunct National Miner and The Independent, and bankrolled the libertarian Workers Party, which unsuccessfully contested a string of state and federal elections before folding at the end of the decade.

Like her father, Manners says, Rinehart “wants her voice to be heard”. (That voice could be remarkably similar to Hancock's, given that ANDEV also includes his former speechwriter, Craig Marshall.)

If Rinehart were planning to make her own tilt at politics, ANDEV would be the ideal vehicle. Indeed, fund-raising would be a breeze with the support high-flying WA business personality Tony Sage, whose wealth is estimated at more than $800 million, and the secretive German-born, New York-based billionaire Hans “Mr Coal” Mende, whose global portfolio is said to include close to $1 billion in Australian mining assets.

A sympathetic national broadcaster and newspaper group would come in handy, too

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A hard right agenda?! (See Revealing Rinehart's hard-right agenda, December 21.) She is promoting policies that further advance the position of the wealthiest in our community. The minerals in Australia's soil are owned by all Australians and she wants to pay as little as possible for them. Hasn't she got enough money already!?
Daniel of course she has a vested interest ('Rinehart's unwanted advance', Conversation contribution, December 22). As you said they belong to all Australians so why don't you get off your a#%@ and create a mining company/empire?
Don't forget if miners can't make the appropriate returns in Australia they will seek to invest elsewhere. Their capital is transportable – a fact that those pushing the MRRT also don't understand.
What are you suggesting Rob? That we sacrifice freedom of the press for investment? ('Go claim your share of our minerals', Conversation contribution, December 22.) Sorry mate – that has been tried elsewhere and it is not very nice.
Rob, I don't have a problem with her making good money for a hard days work ('Go claim your share of our minerals', Conversation contribution, December 22). But if she has made billions of dollars harvesting our country's natural resources then she is not paying enough for the access! We are giving our finite resources away too cheaply. Yet she wants them even cheaper...
No doubt the HR Nicholls society will also rear its head in this saga shortly in support of Rinehart et al. (See Revealing Rinehart's hard-right agenda, December 22.)
After all, wasn't its president, Ray Evans, Hugh Morgan's general secretary when he run his mining company.
Great to see-at least there are a few Australians left with influence to override the likes of Rudd, Brown and now Swan and Gillard who have never made any thing themselves but only want to spend the taxes they gather on weak willed policies and wasteful projects. (See Revealing Rinehart's hard-right agenda, December 22.)
What a pity politicians can be elected without having run a successful business – if they had, they might realise what it takes to run a country properly.
You've certainly tried to dig up some dirt and connect some dots, yet none of your claims regarding policies have any evidence. (See Revealing Rinehart's hard-right agenda, December 22.)
This sort of fear-mongering, socialist gossiping is best left for university newspapers. Please maintain the standard of this website by preventing unsubstantiated slander like this from being published
Yes Martin ('Happy with Rinehart's rising influence', Conversation contribution, December 22), countries should be run like a business, especially a mining business – let's run a country where a few people take most of the loot, distribute the rest as dismally as possible, continually sack people if conditions turn the least bit unfavourable, invest as little as possible, and leave the country in a dirty great mess, then ride off onto the next exploitable asset.
I am sure miners would like the country to be run that way, but fortunately for the rest of us mining contributes only 7% of GDP, so the rest of us have a strong argument for running the country as a commonwealth rather than a business.
So the author consider this statement to constitute contempt of government: 'Our political leaders and those who support their at times under-informed views need to move out of their dangerously small bubble and consider what is happening in the real world around them.' (See Revealing Rinehart's hard-right agenda, December 22.)
Outside of Canberra, the author may be surprised to learn that few would disagree with this sentiment.
As usual in the comments we see the boosters of the rich, such as Mr Smith ('Go claim your share of our minerals', Conversation contribution, December 22). Ms Rinehart neither created the minerals she digs up, nor did she discover them, nor did she create the mining company that does the digging. So just how is she more deserving of a voice than the rest of the population who voted in the current government? (See Revealing Rinehart's hard-right agenda, December 22.)
Luke McKenna obviously leans the "other" way. Anyone that disagrees with his way of thinking on climate change, IR reform and the free market is considered radical or divisive. That's a dangerous way to think in a democratic society such as ours. (See Revealing Rinehart's hard-right agenda, December 22.)
The current Green led Labor government is the one with the extreme agenda. That far left agenda is supported by the majority of media in Australia. Best of luck to Rinehart in establishing a right wing media presence. Then the voters can have a better balance in the "news" spin that is put to them. (See Revealing Rinehart's hard-right agenda, December 22.)
I think a growing number of middle Australians are getting sick to death of being labelled hard right if they don't share the current Labor/Green ideology constantly pushed by the ABC and most of the media. (See Revealing Rinehart's hard-right agenda, December 22.)
This article appears to be written with an ink dipped sickle to hammer home a false presumption. (See Revealing Rinehart's hard-right agenda, December 22.)
The description of Gina as 'hard right' exposes this piece as speculative diatribe!
The left are displaying the fiscal ineptitude not experienced since the seventies. It is high time that people of broad experience in management, leadership and vision collaborated to ensure a prosperous future for all Australians as there is a dearth of talent on both sides of politics at this juncture.
I find it bemusing that this article does not make one mention of the intent of ANDEV as stated on the website.
At best, this article is nothing but a mere conspiracy theory based on latent paranoia.
Is Luke McKenna's suffering acid flashbacks? Is there any real journalism going on here? (See Revealing Rinehart's hard-right agenda, December 22.)
During boom times Australians love to cut down a tall poppy. So while miners are making once in a century returns, on the back of China's industrialisation, it must be a result raiding and pillaging Aussie battlers.
Let's add miners to the list of greedy and evil corporations like banks. Profits must never be measured by standards such as ROI, ROCE or even ROA. Never mind pricing for risk.
While commenters are entitled to an opinion, it doesn't make them worthy of consideration.
Sounding a bit like the Australian Tea Party aren't we? Any links to the GOP I wonder?
We need to get some balance back into Australian media (See Revealing Rinehart's hard-right agenda, December 22).
Australian media is hopelessly Left Wing and it is disgraceful to see the lies and distortions thrown at the population, especially by the ABC.
My guess is that those who are the engine room of Australian prosperity have had enough of the false impression given to Australians and the maligning of those who provide wealth and jobs for all Australians.
I can hardly wait to watch the results of the changes.
At last we may get some balance to the predominatly left media and commentariat in Australia (See Revealing Rinehart's hard-right agenda, December 22). To the commentors like Daniel Thomas, the mineral resources are not owned by all Australians. Under the Australian constitution they are actually owned by the States and the people of the States. The various State governments sell the rights for companies to mine these resources through the royalty system. To suggest that entreprenurs and companies should undertake substantial risks and investments and then have to hand over their hard earned profits to the likes of the incompetents in Canberra is not a view shared by the majority of regional Australians. The tax take in Australia is already in excess of 40 cents in each dollar earned. How much more of the wealth of the Nation do we want the bureaucrats to waste before we collectively stand up and say "enough is enough".
I just love these blow hard organisations, right wing ultra conservative and free market (See Revealing Rinehart's hard-right agenda, December 22). They setup these websites to push these ideas. Dig a little deep into the website and you find a socialist left wing website. Look closer at www.andev-project.org, guess what, they are using, Linux and Apache. Open Source and leftie as you can be in the software world.
Come on Rinehart, you should be using Microsoft products and paying for it, not sponging off free open source products.
Up until now only the Australian has dared publish any commentary opposed to the ALP government. They are also the only paper which has published alternative views to the so called consensus climate hypothesis.
Since this journal and it's stable-mate, Climate Spectator, are flag bearers for the left and it's government of choice it is not surprising they rebel at the thought of a publisher printing the facts rather than advocacy. (See Revealing Rinehart's hard-right agenda, December 22.)
The miners do provide many workers with well paid employment and their earnings do support large parts of our economy. The envious seldom are prepared to make the investment nor the effort to succeed. They prefer to snipe from the shadows.
I subscribe to the philosophy of trickle down prosperity rather than the left's trickle up poverty.