Gina Rinehart on regulations for SMEs

Australia’s richest person, Gina Rinehart, is making news for her family feud and media ambitions. But what makes her tick as an entrepreneur? We’ve found some speeches that shed light on Gina Rinehart’s business philosophies, including a belief that SMEs are over-regulated.

Gina Rinehart, the Chairman of Hancock Prospecting Group, has made a lot of news recently. Her family feud, media ambitions and burgeoning wealth have turned into forests of coverage.

Here at My Business we want to know what makes her tick, so we searched for any speeches she’s made.

The results were interesting.

In October 2011, Rinehart spoke at the Commonwealth Business Forum, one of the satellite events to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting and in said that Australia is over-regulated, which hurts small business.

In her speech she said:

“… one of the issues that need to be tackled is the cost, risk and time lost on approvals, permits and licences before revenue can be earned, has very greatly increased in Australia, making it almost impossible for small companies to carry and comply with such burdens.”

“To open a new mine, build a rail and largely a new port, it takes 3104 permits and approvals. It could be more, that’s what we have identified to date. Last year we said about 1500 permits and approvals but unfortunately we’ve found even more! This burden is simply too great for small and even medium companies and must be drastically reduced if we wish to be a business hub.

The business hub Rinehart mentions is her vision for Australia, and in particular West Australia, in the 21st century.

Here’s her explanation of the concept from the same speech:

“In addition to the incredible growth of the resources and related industries, Australia has a growing services industry. The growth in services may increase regionally given the growth of the Asian and Indian economies. What might have been known in the eighteenth, nineteenth and twentieth centuries as the ‘tyranny of distance’ may now, in the twenty first century be referred to as the ‘advantage of proximity’.”

Later in the speech Rinehart called for easier access to temporary foreign workers, in part to stem the shortage of Australians willing to work in the remote and unpleasant locations of many mining projects.

“Australia needs to open its doors to those wanting work on a short term visiting worker basis. This would be a win win win, a win for visiting workers who have difficulty in supporting their families overseas, a win for Australia given the assets and businesses are then able to be built in Australia and Australia can benefit from these for decades ahead, and a win for the companies who otherwise may think the decision to invest in Australia is too risky and they must invest offshore Australia instead.”

Some of those workers could end up in “Special Economic Zones in our north” that Rinehart believes should be “welcoming to investment and with policies conducive to opening and developing successful businesses, to enable more opportunity for exciting vision and development, with low taxation for those Australians who want to work and live in our north.”

Another Rinehart speech made at the opening of a Queensland mine in June 2011 makes the same point about northern economic zones and also says the term “Australasia” is not in common use in Asia.

“This is a term Australians use,” she said, adding “the harsh reality though, is that this is not a term the Asians readily use. We have to earn our place in Asia. We have to continue to earn our position as a major trading partner with Asia, because I’ll tell you something and that is, if our costs get too high in Australia, Asia will buy elsewhere.”

Among the costs Rinehart feels should be reduced are the carbon tax and mining tax.

“We should certainly not be contemplating policies that ostracize us from ‘Australasia’,” she added. “Indeed we shouldn’t be contemplating any worse policies than the vibrant economies of the BRIC countries, Brazil, Russia, India and China have to deal with. There is simply no place in Australia for policies that deter exploration, investment and hard work. Not if we want our standards of living to be maintained or improve. We live in a cost competitive world, profits are only temporary, Canberra needs to recognise this.”

She also spoke of an entrepreneur’s responsibility, saying that “…for the cost of building this trial mine alone which you see today, I could have bought myself a beautiful new private jet. But you’ve seen these trucks and shovels out there, who would be paying the wages of these contractors if I had spent that on a luxurious private jet and 2 pilots instead? Indeed for the further costs of paying my terrific staff working hard on these projects and the consultants studies for the pre feasibility study and the bankable feasibility study and now value engineering, together employing hundreds of people, I could have gotten for myself 1 or 2 beautiful yachts like many of my friends have, and employed 6 or more yacht crew and taken off.”

“But I’m pleased with my choices to invest instead in Australia, as I know I’ve done something important for Australia’s future …”

A far older Rinehart speech (PDF), delivered to mark the 50th anniversary of a flight during which her father identified major iron ore reserves, is also illuminating.

In the conclusion to the speech she said:

“Dad could have taken his hard earned money and retired to 'the good life' wherever he chose in this world, thousands of miles away from any destructive media and the jealousy they wrongly inspire. Instead he chose to invest his wealth and his life in this country, to explore and develop his beloved Pilbara and to attempt to educate his fellow Australians regarding the advantages of free enterprise over central planning and the ‘sound good’ but impractical socialistic utopian government policies.”

The snippets we have selected from the speeches are, by necessity, rather short. But we’ve linked to them all so you can read more about this influential Australian.

Feel free to let us know what you think of her attitudes to regulation, northern economic zones and the other issues raised.

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