SOPHIE Mirabella has been head-hunted by Australia’s richest woman Gina Rinehart for a newly created position with Hancock Prospecting.
The executive team role titled general manager of government and media relations begins immediately and comes just over a month since Mrs Mirabella bowed out of political life after her second successive defeat in the federal seat of Indi she had previously held for 12 years.
Mrs Mirabella and Ms Rinehart have known eachother for more than 15 years with the mining magnate previously donating to the election campaigns of Coalition MPs including Deputy Prime Minister, Barnaby Joyce.
“It is exciting to be working for an innovative company that provides so many jobs and is diversifying into agriculture, which is a great passion of mine,” Mrs Mirabella said.
“I look forward to working for Ms Rinehart, who I know well and, who I regard as a great Australian and outstanding role model.”
The role for Mrs Mirabella, 47, comes at a time of further expansion for Hancock Prospecting with the establishment of three major Hope Downs iron ore mines.
Late last year Ms Rinehart purchased a 10,000 hectare property north of Dubbo to further cement her expanding Wagyu beef interests.
“Sophie is not shy of hard work,” she said in a statement.
“We are pleased she has accepted this new challenging role with our hardworking executive team.”
Mrs Mirabella’s salary has not been disclosed.
Ms Rinehart is presently in Rio, cheering on Australia’s Olympic swimmers, rowers and volleyball players after reportedly contributing $5 million in athlete support annually.
The appointment is tipped to create some “interesting ripples” for the Liberal Party.
“Sophie is obviously extremely well-connected in both government and business at a national level,” a senior Liberal source said.
“Gina Rinehart wouldn't have employed her if she wasn’t.
“Sophie commands a lot of respect in the party, particularly from women, who regard her as one of the few genuine counters to the boys’ club.”
The role will be based in Melbourne, but she has no plans of leaving Wangaratta.
Indi Liberals chief Tony Schneider said the job was a coup for Mrs Mirabella.
“Gina Rinehart's gain is very much a loss to the people of the North East,” he said.
“To those who actually know Sophie and her capabilities, it's not a surprise that Australia's most successful businesswoman would bring Sophie onto her team.
“The amount of criticism levelled against Sophie in recent years by her political opponents has obscured the truth of not just Sophie's abilities, but her achievements as well.”