Mining magnate Gina Rinehart has conceded the anti-development message is winning as she called on government to relax regulation and cut mining red tape.
“We have become a nation of compliance, rather than performance,” she said.
“Regulations are crushing the entrepreneurial spirit of our country, they are sending investment to countries that will then compete with us.”
Speaking at a Small Business Association of Australia lunch in Darwin, Ms Rinehart praised India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi as the “rock star” of last week’s G20 meeting in Brisbane for his work on slashing bureaucracy.
She also applauded the NT and Queensland governments for stripping away regulation.
She said the removal of the MRRT and carbon tax were positive steps but wanted governments to focus on helping Australian companies to export.
Softening international commodity prices can’t be changed, and “Australians are reluctant to have their wages lowered” so government burdens such as compliance measures and regulations should be reduced, she said.
Ms Rinehart said special economic zones were flourishing in Asia and called for the same in Australia.
But she quoted Andrew Smith, chairman of Shell Australia, who said one of the greatest challenges facing Australian growth was anti-mining activism and propaganda.
“The anti-development message is winning,” she said.
“For an industry that delivers so much, wouldn’t you think that there would be just a little more understanding and less negativity for what mining contributes to our country?”
She said her major Roy Hill iron ore mine was running ahead of schedule, with more than two million tonnes of high-grade ore stockpiled and ready for shipment.