Send miners to parliament and students to work, Gina Rinehart says

Article by Tom Rabe and Brad Thompson courtesy of the Financial Review.

Australia’s richest person Gina Rinehart has called on the mining sector to push its own workers and advocates into parliament, so they can tear up environmental regulation she warns is jeopardising the industry’s ability to maintain its current levels of production.

In a speech to mining executives and Liberal leader Peter Dutton at her Roy Hill mine on Wednesday, Mrs Rinehart took aim at Prime Minister Anthony Albanese for taking overseas trips to spruik trade while his government was handcuffing local industry.

“Platitudes and press releases move precisely zero tonnes of iron, copper, nickel, rare earths or any other mineral,” Mrs Rinehart says in a copy of the speech seen by The Australian Financial Review.

“The reality of what the government is doing with its excessive and complicated tape, and the risk of bad policies being introduced, is that we risk not even achieving replacement tonnage to maintain current production, let alone massively expanding across a range of minerals and metals.”

In a speech quoting Winston Churchill, drawing from Margaret Thatcher and interspersed with a video clips from Elon Musk and Canada’s conservative opposition leader Pierre Poilievre, Mrs Rinehart made a rallying cry to the mining industry to push its way into Australian parliament.

Mr Dutton was expected to address the event, as well as former governor general Sir Peter Cosgrove, who was expected to beam in via a holographic video.

“Now I’m suggesting something in addition, encourage and support people from our industry, to put themselves up for parliament. We need strong people in government, not afraid to stand up for common sense, and for mining,” she said.

Advocate for mining

The mining mogul called for people to devote “no less than 15 minutes” each day to advocating for the industry.

“Be this via letters to media or government, comments online, social media, or as members of political parties, grab those minutes, whether it be waiting in doctors or dentists surgeries or airports, waiting for food orders, riding in planes, buses or trains,” she said.

She also suggested the federal government consider moving departments to the vast Pilbara in WA’s north-west to “learn about where Aussie’s revenue is generated”.

Mrs Rinehart lamented delays to her McPhee iron ore project in the WA Pilbara, which she revealed would now be “lucky” to even reach production in 2025.

It was revealed this week Mrs Rinehart’s Hancock Prospecting was appealing to the WA environment minister to change “onerous” conditions imposed on the McPhee project by the state’s environmental protection agency.

“These kinds of delays make Australia increasingly unattractive for investment and if they occur for a relatively small project, 1.5 per cent of WA’s iron ore production utilising mainly existing infrastructure, what hope do larger projects have,” she said.

Mrs Rinehart’s Hancock Prospecting needs satellite projects like McPhee to feed into its Roy Hill infrastructure with the private company’s flagship mine and biggest money spinner expected to start running out of ore soon after 2030.

The mining mogul also took a swipe at immigration policy, which commentators like HSBC chief economist Paul Bloxham and Future Fund chairman Peter Costello have linked to rent shortages and pressure on interest rates.

The migration surge – 500,000 arrivals in the past year – is seen as a way to address labour shortages but Mrs Rinehart wants the government to relax restrictions on pensioners, university students and non-violent prisoners working.

“Where is the sense in restricting our own citizens from working while bringing in more immigrants when our hospitals already can’t cope?” she said.

‘Outstanding’ Dutton

Mrs Rinehart described Mr Dutton as an “outstanding leader”. She also revealed her admiration for Tesla founder Elon Musk, who she said was one of the most “interesting and successful men in the world”, before playing a YouTube clip where he called for the repeal of rules and regulations that became counterproductive.

Mrs Rinehart, who turns 70 in February, hit out at the latest generation of university graduates who in some cases were too fussy about the tasks required of them and “work-shy”.

“Too often today, youngsters who’ve been to uni don’t want to do work they think is below them, and want to jump into senior roles for instant success skipping the hard metres, perhaps with the feeling that their private education or time at uni means they should pick and choose what work they do,” she said.

“I think part of my success was, despite a private education and, with what was required back then, high enough marks to get into uni that this didn’t give me such an attitude.