Speaking via a recorded video message at the Australian Mines and Metals Association national conference in Melbourne, the Hancock Prospecting chairman and billionaire mining magnate inextricably tied national welfare and support for mining.
“Australia has relied on its resources for its prosperity for a long time, and especially during the last six years of record commodity prices. We began to be called "the lucky country" decades ago when we rode on the sheep’s back, but now the country is riding on the back of the miners and related industries,” she said.
Rinehart illustrated the interconnectedness of support industries that depend on mining and vice-versa, saying a macroeconomic turnaround would require support for this network of resources-led “related industries”.
“The industry needs to keep repeating this and standing up for itself,” she said.
“It needs to keep reminding fellow Australians this: that without mining and its related industries this country has no hope of repaying our record debt, without facing the problems Greece and other countries faced with over-spending and consequent debt traumas.
“Let’s not be too proud to admit that we’re really just a large island with a small population, with record debt. Trade with the world - and especially now to Asia - has always been critical to keeping up our standard of living.
“Plenty of Australians know these things in a casual way. But what few seem to properly understand – even people in government – is that miners and other resources industries aren’t just ATMs for everyone else to draw from without that money first having to be earned, and before that, giant investments made.”
Rinehart evoked Woodside Energy’s pull-out of a $40 billion gas hub in Western Australia as a case in point, saying that government was spending resources money before companies had the chance to earn it.
“The costs must come down,” she said.
“Investment needs to be welcomed; our country must compete against all others for investment. The reverse happens when a government imposes increased taxes, apparently unable to understand how that hurts investment and makes it harder to sell our products at competitive prices internationally.
“Tax increases can destroy businesses, and that means less taxes and fewer jobs. And less opportunities.”
In a well-received presentation before about 300 delegates at the Crown Conference Centre, Rinehart closed with a challenge to embrace the economic potential of one of Australia’s most under-used assets – the largely untapped resources of northern Australia.
“The north has abundant water and under-utilised land at a time when the world’s population is growing bigger and richer,” she said.
“The global population is projected to rise from 7 billion to 9 billion by 2050, and the global middle class from 500 million in 2009 to 3.2 billion by 2030. This will create an explosion in demand for protein and energy.
“The north has the potential to develop beyond our imaginations.
Rinehart also suggested the establishment of a special economic zone through the north of the country.
“We’ve been saddled with bad government policies that make us uncompetitive, when we could instead make the North a productive food bowl and source of minerals, as well as a centre for medical care, tourism and services for not just Australia but our Asian neighbours.”