Australia at risk unless it cuts government debt, Rinehart says

Gina Rinehart has warned Australia risks becoming another "Greece, Spain or Portugal" unless it cuts government debt and lifts its competitiveness.

Rinehart was speaking as she launched her new book, Northern Australia and Then Some: Changes We Need to Make Our Country Rich at an event in Sydney last night.

"People overseas aren't going to buy our produce because we're Australians and we're nice people," she said.

"One of the things that I'm really concerned about is the cost competitiveness of our industry because our industry doesn't sell on the local market, it sells on the world market."

Rinehart, who is chairman of iron ore miner Hancock Prospecting and owns a stake in the Alpha coal project, said while the investments in the mining industry has been positive, ‘we need to do more’, adding that investors were critical to the nation’s prosperity "discouraged by bad policies, even hated".

Rinehart says that making Australia an attractive investment destination was critical, adding it is an issue of which “too few Australians are realising the consequences".

Australian Mining asked Rinehart which policies she thought needed the most attention.

“There’s two in particular,” she answered.

“That is new and increasing taxes such as MRRT, such as carbon tax and then there’s also the cost of regulations.”

Rinehart explained that for a recent project in Queensland, over 5000 approval processes had to be submitted.

“Now for a big company, say a BHP or a Rio, they have floors of people working on these approvals, this where it is so difficult for small businesses ,or even medium businesses because small businesses have to go through exactly what the bigger ones have to go through  and it is really hard for small businesses to go through the myriad of approvals,” she told Australian Mining.

She went on to say that it is not just the mining industry that needs governmental attention.

"The investment in our mining industry has been very positive for Australia but we need to be doing more if we want – as I do – more revenue for our defence, which I think is under-resourced; our police; our elderly; our hospitals; roads; infrastructure and communication; to be able to repay our debts and enable sustainable job opportunities for existing and future generations," she said.

Rinehart's 220-page book is described in its preface as "a compendium of speeches, articles and images" and states Rinehart "offers the reader a comprehensive insight into her thoughts about national prosperity" and an "intimate glimpse" of her life and times.

The launch date was chosen to coincide with the 60th anniversary of her late father Lang Hancock's flight over the rain-soaked cliffs of Western Australia's Pilbara where he discovered the Hamersley iron ore deposits.

Hancock wrote his own book, Wake Up Australia, to outline his vision of the essential place of mining at the centre of the nation's economic and political future; a theme that is at the very core of Rinehart’s book.

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