Australia’s richest woman has a two-word solution for Australia’s economic pressures: more mines.
Gina Rinehart, who is worth an estimated $38bn thanks to her mining interests, used a speech to the Queensland Resources Council earlier this week to push for an end to the regulation and green tape she said was strangling the mining sector.
Rinehart said the industry needed to remind people “that without our critical resources industries, our living standards cannot be maintained, indeed, nor can our defence”.
She said the increase to social security payments and climate schemes were to blame for Australia not being able to pay for its defence.
“With all reputable defence intelligence telling us that our country needs to urgently ramp up its defence in these times, [there are] grossly insufficient taxpayers’ funds available, after increased welfare payments and net zero schemes, for our government to meet its prime responsibility – the defence of our country,” Rinehart said.
The Albanese government has ramped up defence spending over the next decade and committed $360bn to the Aukus deal, while the changes to jobseeker and associated rates in the budget are forecast to cost $4.9bn over four years.
The Western Australian billionaire was also upset Australia’s high school curriculum did not pay proper homage to iron ore, but included multiple references to climate change.
“In the current high school national curriculum, which mandates what every school child in Australia is taught, iron ore is referenced only twice,” she told a room of Brisbane’s mining elite.
“Yet climate change and renewable energy are mentioned 48 times. Mining, coal and iron ore do not receive even one mention in the entire high school economics and business curriculum.
“‘Dirty’ or ‘evil’ mining, greater government burdens, and school curriculums are examples what we are up against, and why we must accelerate standing up for our industry.”
Rinehart – who was once given permission to hire 1,700 temporary migrant workers on 457 visas without advertising locally – has also changed her tune on migration.
“Why bring in more immigrants when we all know there is a housing shortage for Australians already, rents are escalating, our hospitals are inadequate without adding more, police already can’t police crime and crime is escalating, electricity requirements will increase, adding to unreliability and increased costs, and so on,” she said.
Instead, she urged the government to allow veterans, pensioners and university students receiving welfare to work as many hours as they wished and “simply pay income tax like the rest of us on their work earnings”.
“Why not let those of our pensioners, vets, students and the disabled work if they wish without onerous government consequences, to ease the worker shortage crisis. Australians already in Australia won’t add to the housing shortage, electricity requirements and over-strain our infrastructure,” she said.
But to truly fix Australia’s ills, Rinehart believes governments just need to make it easier to open more mines. She said that “Queensland and each of our states and the Northern Territory” should be in “the top 10 for favourable investment and mining conditions in the world”.
“So more mining revenue can be achieved and available to provide more for our inadequate hospitals, police to protect us from crime, pay back our debt, and reduce this terrible wastage on interest as we live beyond our means,” she added.
“Please take every opportunity you can, be it talking to your families, friends, your Uber drivers, doctors, chemists or your local member of parliament, and others, or online or letters to the editor, to remind everyone of the essential contribution of mining.
“Please don’t let a day go past without devoting at the minimum, 15 minutes each day to spread the mining message.”
There are more than 100 mines in the approval pipeline, and while not all will progress, Tanya Plibersek approved a new coalmine in central Queensland last week, while another three projects have been advanced in the approval process.