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Bob Brown's Q&A star turn, sexism in Aus theatre, Rinehart v Rio

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Bob Brown's one man show. After months of lobbying, Bob Brown was finally granted a stand-alone spot on the ABC's Q&A last night -- a week after announcing his retirement as leader of the Greens.

Although there were plenty of luvvies in attendance, the crowd didn't just bowl up Dorothy Dixers to the lanky Tasmanian. Brown was quizzed on his infamous "fellow Earthians" global democracy speech, whether Christians have a place in The Greens, and his past support for coal-fired power generation.

The episode was as much personal as political, with Brown opening up about his Presbyterian background and submitting himself to electro-shock therapy in a bid to rid himself of homosexuality during his youth.

The theatre boys club still strong. As keen The Power Index readers know, the issue of women in power has long been of interest to us. Of the 150 spots on our 15 power lists so far, only 21 -- that is 14% -- have been women.

Our Arts and Culture power list featured only three women -- a suggestion of male dominance that has been borne out by a new study by the Australia Council on gender bias in theatre.

The council's inquiry found that, although women star on the stage, the most influential positions remain dominated by white, middle-class men. The power given to artistic directors to control almost all aspects of a theatre company's works is particularly pernicious, as the Sydney Morning Herald reports today.

The Australia Council wants theatre big wigs to prioritise gender and cultural diversity, rather than relying on artistic directors' personal connections to recruit to talent.

Rinehart vs Rio. There's nothing like the promise of millions of dollars of mining royalties to bring old enemies together. In March 2010, Gina Rinehart lost a nine-year legal stoush with Angela Bennett and Michael Wright, the descendants of her father Lang Hancock's business partner.

Now, Rinehart, our no.3 most powerful Rich Crusader, has teamed up with Bennett and Wright to take on Rio Tinto over iron ore rights in the Pilbara. Rinehart, Wright and Bennett are suing Rio subsidiary Hamersley Iron Pty Ltd over the terms of a 1970 royalties agreement signed by their forebears. The case will return to court later this year.


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