"Crocodile Dundee" solidified the Aussies’ reputation as laid back and fun-loving, but the world’s richest woman, who happens to hail from the island continent, is singlehandedly changing that.
Gina Rinehart, the Australian mining heiress worth $19 billion, has “sparked controversy” in her latest column in Australian Resources and Investment magazine. Rinehart rails against class warfare and says the non-rich should stop attacking the rich and go to work. CNBC’s Robert Frank happens to be a registered online reader, and reports on the rant …er, column.
"There is no monopoly on becoming a millionaire," she writes. "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 socializing and more time working."
As Frank notes, her comments were part of “a treatise on what she sees as Australia's decline due to high taxes, high wages and overregulation. Rinehart said taxes should fall, red tape should be cut, environmental rules relaxed and the minimum wage should be lowered. It's currently AUS $15.06 an hour or $606 a week, about the same in U.S. dollars.”
He somewhat understatedly adds that her quotes are sure to escalate the already heated debate in the United States, Britain and Europe over class warfare, taxing the wealthy and "fair shares."
"The terrible millionaires and billionaires can often invest in other countries,” Rinehart continues. “And if they do suffer, what does that really mean? Maybe their teenagers don't get the cars they wanted or a better beach house or maybe the holiday to Europe is cut short; But otherwise life goes on for these millionaires and billionaires."
Those who really suffer from anti-business and anti-investor policies, she writes, according to Frank, are regular workers who "usually vote for the anti-business socialist parties. If you want to help the poor and our next generation, make investment, reinvestment and businesses welcome."
In something of a “let them eat cake moment,” since she inherited her wealth, she also tells the stories of her two grandfathers and three of her wealthy friends, who all started at the bottom and worked their way to the top. One grandfather, James Nicholas, started cleaning stables and launched a transportation company. Another granddad built a sheep station with 25,000 sheep.
“Her pal Michael Kailis came from a poor Greek immigrant family and became Australia's crawfish king,” Frank concludes. “Friend Jack Cowin borrowed from friends to found the Hungry Jack burger chain, and is now the country's ‘king of fries.’
“Of course, as Rinehart knows, you can also become very rich from inheriting and expanding your father's company.”