By business editor Peter Ryan ABC
Australia’s richest person, mining magnate Gina Rinehart, says the Government has an unhealthy reliance on the resources sector and has been treating it like an ATM.
In a speech to be delivered to an Australian Mines and Metals Association conference in Melbourne today, Mrs Rinehart says the nation’s debt levels are unsustainable.
She says that without reform, Australia risks following the eurozone into financial and social chaos.
“What few seem to properly understand – even people in government – is that miners and other resources industries aren’t just ATMs for everyone else to draw from without that money first having to be earned and, before that, giant investments are made,” she said in a video recorded for the conference.
“It is incredible that after the last six years of record commodity boom times, we now find the once lucky country in record debt, with the federal budget tipped to deliver yet another deficit, to further increase our record debt.
“This debt is simply unsustainable, especially when Australia now faces an increasing elderly population with increasing needs, and fewer workers to pay for it all. This lucky country has got to start thinking, and acting.”
In a call to arms, Mrs Rinehart again describes Australia’s economy as “too expensive and cost uncompetitive”, saying government red tape and regulations are damaging the nation’s reputation on the world stage.
Mrs Rinehart has cited Woodside Petroleum’s recent decision to shelve its $40 billion gas project at James Price Point in Western Australia, and comments from the former global head of Ford, Jac Nasser, who predicted the eventual demise of the Australian car industry, as evidence that Australia was becoming am unattractive place to do business.
“No wonder major projects like Browse have been cancelled. This should make us all sit up and think,” she said.
Mrs Rinehart’s address, to be posted on YouTube, was highly critical of Australian governments and the complacency of taxpayers.
However, it does not mirror earlier inflammatory remarks about African workers being prepared to be paid “less than two dollars a day” that were made in a similar recorded speech last year.