Mrs Rinehart, why did you get into media?

Australia’s richest person, Gina Rinehart, signed dozens of books at her launch last night – a love-in for Sydney’s business elite, which queued happily for the chance to have a brief chat with the iron ore magnate, and have their $40 copy autographed.

The launch of Mrs Rinehart’s book of speeches, pictures and magazine columns, ‘‘Northern Australia and then some,’’ was attended by some 310 members of the Sydney Mining Club and other invitees, and moves on to Melbourne tonight.

After the speeches were over, one questioner drew a burst of applause asking: ‘‘what made you get involved in the media?’’

Mrs Rinehart, who has made loss-making investments in the Ten Network (owning 10 per cent) and Fairfax Media (almost 15 per cent), said her family was involved with the media since her childhood, with her father the late Lang Hancock launching unsuccessful Perth newspaper the Sunday Independent, and then the industry magazine the National Miner.

Old friend Jack Cowin – the Hungry Jacks founder and director and shareholder of both Ten and Fairfax, who joined Mrs Rinehart on the stage last night – invited her to invest in Channel Ten but the first time, she said, ‘‘I couldn’t afford it’’.

‘‘We’ve now got the opportunity to be in Fairfax – well, a partial opportunity that one – and I’m also in Ten. I think it’s good for people just outside the media industry, and basically I am, to know something about other industries, and to perhaps be on these boards.’’

Mrs Rinehart was joined at the head table by her daughter Ginia, former Commonwealth Bank chief and future fund chairman David Murray and Lachlan Murdoch, who left before dinner for an overseas flight.

Advertising industry stalwart John Singleton and federal Liberal MP Scott Morrison, who was expected, were no-shows.

Mr Murray, whose interview with newspaper columnist and broadcaster Andrew Bolt is transcribed in one section of Mrs Rinehart’s book, described Ms Rinehart and her father as ‘‘inspirational and successful Australians’’.

Prominent climate sceptic Ian Plimer, a director of Mrs Rinehart’s Roy Hill Holdings, and lobby group Australians for Northern Development and Economic Vision, told Fairfax ‘‘she gets pilloried by those that live off her wealth, and to me that’s an absolute disgrace’’.