SYDNEY— The world’s richest woman, Australian mining tycoon Gina Rinehart, urged those “jealous” of the wealthy to “spend less time drinking” in a piece blasted as “insulting” by Canberra on Thursday.
Rinehart, whose family iron ore prospecting fortune of Aus$29.2 billion (US$30.1 billion) also makes her Australia’s wealthiest person, hit out at those envious of the rich.
“There is no monopoly on becoming a millionaire,” she wrote in a regular industry magazine column.
“If you’re jealous of those with more money, don’t just sit there and complain. Do something to make more money yourself — spend less time drinking or smoking and socialising, and more time working.
“Become one of those people who work hard, invest and build, and at the same time create employment and opportunities for others.”
Rinehart blaming what she described as “socialist”, anti-business policies for the plight of Australia’s poor, urging the government to lower the minimum wage, as well as taxes, to promote investment.
But senior ministers including Treasurer Wayne Swan — an outspoken critic of Australia’s mining billionaires and their deep-pocketed anti-tax campaigns — slammed the remarks.
“These sorts of comments are an insult to the millions of Australian workers who go to work and slog it out to feed the kids and pay the bills,” Swan said, adding that Rinehart clearly regarded Australians as “lazy workers who drink and socialise too much”.
Swan has repeatedly attacked Rinehart, coal magnate Clive Palmer and iron ore baron Andrew Forrest for running “self-interested” campaigns against the centre-left Labor government’s taxes on mining profits and pollution.
Health Minister Tanya Plibersek said it was “pretty easy for Gina Rinehart to say that people on the minimum wage should get paid less” when she did not have to live on it.
The left-leaning Greens party noted that Rinehart had “accumulated wealth from her family”, while Australia’s mining union labelled her remarks “bizarre” and accused her of pursing a “dangerous” agenda.
“At the same time as trying to import cheap foreign labour and avoid paying tax, Rinehart claims it’s millionaires and billionaires who are the greatest for social good,” said mining union president Tony Maher.
“What planet is she living on? She should spend less time ranting and more time sharing.”