Originally published in The Conversation on February 10, 2012

The mining industry is used to having its voice heard in Australian public debates, so it should come as no surprise that mining billionaires such as Gina Rinehart and Clive Palmer would consider buying up a bigger slice of the Australian media. While the estimated $20m spent by the mining industry on television advertisements opposing the introduction of a mining tax was the most visible example of the industry’s determination to influence the public it is, in fact, just the tip of the iceberg. The problem for those interested in old-fashioned ideas like representative democracy and the development of policy in the national interest is that the mining industry has demonstrated, very clearly, that some sectional interests in Australia effectively have a veto over policy they don’t like the sound of.

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