Article by Rob Harris & Amelia McGuire courtesy of the Sydney Morning Herald.
Mining magnate Gina Rinehart has responded to news she has been sanctioned by Russia by issuing what amounts to a call to arms.
“We urgently need millions of smart mines in our thousands of kilometres of otherwise indefensible oceans, and capable missiles, war drones, and more,” she said.
One of 121 people in Australia indefinitely banned from Russia by the Kremlin’s foreign ministry, Rinehart yesterday released a statement calling for Australia to build up its defences.
“Much as I have very nice Russian friends and enjoyed very much my two visits to St Petersburg, and would love to revisit, I would not wish to do so if not welcomed, or if I have concerns for my safety. If speaking out in the manner above means I can never visit Russia again in my lifetime, so be it,” she said.
Yesterday, Russia’s Foreign Ministry posted an eclectic list of sanctioned Australians, including media executives, mining bosses, academics, defence officials and journalists, including the editors of the Herald and The Age. A statement on the ministry’s website said those named had supported Australia’s “Russophobic agenda”.
Nobody on the list openly expressed any dismay about their new status. Indeed, many have proclaimed it “a badge of honour”, including Fortescue’s founder Andrew ‘Twiggy’ Forrest and South Australian Premier Peter Malinauskas, who said he thought his Lithuanian heritage prompted the sanction.
“Oh, I was a bit proud,” the premier said as he arrived in Canberra for National Cabinet. “It’s fair to say that popping into Russia wasn’t on my to-do list. Our 10th wedding anniversary celebrations weren’t planned to be spent in Siberia, so I’m not too fussed.”
Malinauskas was the only elected official on the latest list, although 228 Australian politicians and officials were banned from Russia in April, including Anthony Albanese and the then-prime minister Scott Morrison, in retaliation for Canberra’s sanctions.
Speaking at the Financial Times Hydrogen Summit just hours after he was slapped with sanctions by the Kremlin, Forrest said he would wear his sanction as a badge of honour and that he had no regrets about calling out Russian over the invasion of Ukraine. “I don’t take it lightly, I take it seriously.
But I would say to other leaders in the room that you are not worth talking to unless you have been sanctioned.”
He accused Western politicians of “propping up the Kremlin” by relying on natural gas imports from Russia instead of ramping up the production of alternative energy capabilities.
“Natural gas is Putin’s power,” the West Australian billionaire told the Financial Times Hydrogen Summit yesterday. “Keep buying it and keep propping up the Kremlin.”
Other newly sanctioned business leaders, including Atlassian’s Mike Cannon-Brookes, Rio Tinto chief executive Simon Trott and Seven West media chairman Kerry Stokes, have not yet commented on their new status.
Herald editor Bevan Shields said that while he wasn’t planning a holiday in Russia any time soon, the ban might affect others on the list: “If telling the truth about Russian President Vladimir Putin, an accused war criminal, and his brutal invasion of Ukraine leads to sanctions, I am sure journalists will take that as evidence that we are doing our jobs well.”
The Australian’s Europe correspondent Jacquelin Magnay, who appeared on the list alongside Rob Harris, Europe correspondent for the Herald, said she “would have been truly upset not to have been sanctioned”.
ABC radio host Patricia Karvelas said waking at 3.30am to news she was sanctioned was like a “hallucination reality dreamscape”.
Other media figures on the sanctions list included Nine’s CEO Mike Sneesby, News Corp’s co-chair Lachlan Murdoch, ABC’s chair Ita Buttrose, The Age’s editor Gay Alcorn and the Australian Financial Review’s editor-inchief Michael Stutchbury.
The Herald’s newly sanctioned leader writer Geoff Winestock said the list is “just another sign of the Putin inferiority complex”.
Winestock, who lived and worked in Moscow for seven years, said most people included on the Australian sanctions list had never been to Russia and had no intention of visiting in the future. “I hope democracy returns to Russia, but I’m not holding my breath,” he added.
A spokesperson from Nine Entertainment Group said the sanctioning of company employees “won’t change our journalism and reporting on the events occurring in Ukraine”.
SOME OF THE BLACKLISTED AUSTRALIANS MEDIA Ita Buttrose (ABC) Bevan Shields (The Herald) Gay Alcorn (The Age) Michael Stutchbury (AFR) Christopher Dore (The Australian) Andrew Bolt (Sky) Carrie-Anne Greenbank (Nine) Peter Hartcher (The Herald) Amanda Hodge (The Australian) Paul Kelly (The Australian) Aaron Patrick (AFR) Kishor Napier-Raman (The Herald, ex-Crikey) GOVERNMENT Greg Moriarty (Defence secretary) Air Vice-Marshal Darren Goldie (RAAF) Vice Admiral David Johnston (ADF) BUSINESS Mark Davies (Rio Tinto) ACADEMIA Monica Attard (UTS) John Blaxland (ANU) Malcolm Davis (Australian Institute for Strategic Policy) Michael Fullilove (Lowy Institute) Robert Horvath (La Trobe University) Geoffrey Robertson (barrister) Brian Schmidt (ANU) Mick Ryan (military expert)
Mike Sneesby (Nine CEO)
Kerry Stokes (Seven chairman)
Lachlan Murdoch (Nova, News Corp)
Patricia Karvelas (ABC)
Stan Grant (ABC)
Liz Hayes (Nine reporter)
Angus Campbell (Defence Force chief)
Rear Admiral Mark Hammond (Navy)
Peter Malinauskas (SA Premier)
Gina Rinehart (Mining)
Andrew Forrest (Mining)
Mike CannonBrookes (Tech)