World's richest woman calls for Australian workers to be paid $2 a day to compete with companies hiring cheap African staff
- Mining boss Gina Rinehart says Australian labour is becoming too costly
- Comments received criticism by PM Julia Gillard who insists cheap labour is 'not the Australian way'
The richest woman in the world warned her fellow countrymen they are becoming too expensive to employ.
Mining tycoon Gina Rinehart said it is becoming too costly for multinational companies who could hire workers for two dollars a day in Africa.
The 58-year-old said in a video address yesterday that businesses are forced to look to other nations as the price for Australian labour is too high, something which was immediately criticised by Prime Minister Julia Gillard.
Ms Rinehart, head of resources giant Hancock Prospecting, blamed the government's mining and carbon taxes, red tape and high wages for the economy's 'sluggish' performance.
‘The evidence is unarguable, Australia is indeed becoming too expensive and too uncompetitive to do export-oriented business,’ she said.
‘Furthermore, Africans want to work, and its workers are willing to work for less than $2 per day. Such statistics make me worry for this country's future.’
‘It's not the Australian way to toss people $2, to toss them a gold coin, and then ask them to work for a day.
‘We support proper Australian wages and decent working conditions.’
Ms Rinehart also attacked the Australian government, accusing them of not being competitive enough on the international markets, and added: ‘If we competed at the Olympic Games as sluggishly as we compete economically there would be an outcry.’
Her outburst came a day after iron ore giant Fortescue announced it would defer planned developments.
Last month BHP Billiton shelved its multi-billion dollar expansion of the Olympic Dam copper and uranium mine.
Australian mining projects have faced headwinds from depressed conditions in Europe and the United States, softening growth in China and increased competition from other producers as well as falling commodity prices.
The price of iron ore, a crucial ingredient in steelmaking, has fallen dramatically in the past two months as the Chinese economy slows, while the price of coal, another major Australian export, has also dropped sharply.
Prime Minister Gillard insisted that Australia would continue to be competitive in mining.
'We're going to compete on our great mineral deposits, our application of technology and high skills to the task. We mine differently than in other countries,' she said.