OPINION: by Gina RinehartNews Weekly
The values needed to underpin Australia's economic growth
, December 21, 2013
In a recent address to the Small Business Association, Gina Rinehart gave an insight into the importance of her upbringing and family values in her development, and the need for sound values in developing the nation. Here are extracts from her talk.
A few days ago I was in Canberra and heard Barnaby Joyce give his maiden speech (see News Weekly, December 7, 2013), after making the transition from senator to a House of Representatives member.
In a very fine contribution mentioning the values of work in the country, one phrase also stuck out, “Two things happen to you in this building [Parliament House] — you gain weight and lose touch.” It may seem a funny line, but depressingly true. Too many of our political servants do lose touch with the things that matter. Their electorate priorities and the real needs of Australia for our future.
Australians are crying out for our political leaders to have vision and enable a good economic path for our future — a vision that will lessen the size and expenditure of government, a vision that will allow the immense productivity of the north, and a vision that will allow businesses to grow, to build our standards of living and provide sustainable jobs.
Somewhere on Capital Hill, they seem to forget that it is through entrepreneurial effort, investment, risk-taking, innovation, competitiveness and productivity that wealth is created and taxes paid that pay our police; provide our prisons, our public hospitals and our public education; and provide for our increasing elderly population, our disabled and our national defence.
I and others present contrasted the humour and wisdom of Minister Joyce’s speech with that of a new young Labor MP who was proud of how he had entered parliament from a welfare-dependent family.
He thanked the pivotal influences in his life — other Labor MPs and the union movement. He spoke of how Labor was the moral side of politics as it believed in government spending and the redistribution of wealth. There was no mention of entrepreneurs or businesses being necessary to first generate such wealth.
The contrast between the two speeches couldn’t be starker, and it highlights the work we have ahead of us. If one of the good parliamentarians tells us our politicians in Canberra lose touch, the Small Business Association needs to make sure they can’t lose touch with the engine room of our economy and our future — that is, small business.
You need to let them know that they can’t spend and redistribute unless there is something there to start with. All government revenue comes from the efforts of others. If government doesn’t control its spending, it has unpalatable and unsustainable options — either raise taxes or borrow more.
Higher taxes destroy incentives for risk-takers. Indeed, as many of you would be aware, they don’t just destroy incentives; the Australian Tax Office (ATO) itself is the number one petitioner for small business bankruptcies and liquidations. Government borrowings rob from tomorrow to spend today, and risk turning us into another Greece. Both are bad news.
And this is the challenge for us all. We need to get this message out — not just to our politicians, their advisors and minders, but to every Australian, particularly the next generation.
We need to see for ourselves the result of excessive or reckless government spending, the entitlement mentality, the welfare state and the loss of work ethic. It’s called Greece, or Spain or Italy.
Broke, dependent on others, civil unrest, political extremism and massive unemployment, especially among youth — this is the future for a nation that ignores the fundamentals for too long.
I regret that this is not a message people like to hear, but many more need to hear and understand. Our media repeatedly attacks those who dare to point out such fundamental realities, and I understand that some may be too nervous of speaking out.
But from my experience, although the media attacks have been untruthful or distorting, devoid of factual support or biased, and reveal such journalists in their true colours, they generally don’t reflect the views of country Australians, and those in small business or in the mining and related industries.
Wherever I go, people come up to me and say, “Please keep going”, “Australia needs such leadership”, “Good on you!”, and other positive and genuine comments. I am fortunate to have many requests for speaking engagements, so much so that unfortunately I can’t honour them all.
But between us all we can. Your experience and understanding of the fundamentals enable you to spread the message too. You understand, whether through instinct, training or experience, how critical it is to get the fundamentals right.
There has become too much of a disconnect from those basics. Too much moral ground has been taken from the hard-working, risk-taking, sacrificing members of our communities, the contributors and employers, and placed instead with those who don’t create the revenue, but focus on spending or over-spending or wasting it, often irresponsibly.
And right now is a time to share that message, as we are approaching Christmas, a time for gifts.
This Christmas, you can help nurture a new beginning in the direction of our nation. We need to inspire a new generation of entrepreneurs and risk-takers, and we need to empower them with some of the most important educational lessons they will receive.
So, when you think of Christmas gifts this year, give the gift that will keep on giving. For children, may I suggest giving a good book? A good book is a gift of knowledge. Good books fuel ideas and inspiration, creativity and passion, and common sense. They let us learn from others’ experiences. They enable leaders to develop and grow from encountering the insights of others.
And they can help change a culture. Change a culture, and you can change a country.
As a child, I read The Little Red Hen, great for Christmas stocking-stuffers, and Mary Grant Bruce’s Norah of Billabong series, great bed-time stories to share with children. I still recall, when I was a young girl at Hamersley station, my father giving me Norah of Billabong (1912), and the words he said to me were, “I think you’ll like this book.” He was right, I loved it. I read it many times. Later, when I had my own children, I was able to share this book with them, and spent many hours reading this and other Norah series books to them.
As a child I was privileged to have a very fortunate upbringing on a remote station in the north of West Australia. There were no parties or TVs, so I had time to read at night, while the generator was on. It was a life I loved, filled with station work and experiences I loved.
From when I was about four or five years old, my dad would take me on the windmill run. This involved my struggling with some of the gates to open them, so he could drive through; then I’d close them at each paddock.
Dad would help me with any I couldn’t do, but only after first letting me struggle with the more difficult ones.
At each windmill that needed attention, the procedure was the same.
Out came the tool box, and Dad would lay out the tools on a piece of canvas on the ground. He then climbed the windmill ladder. He would then yell for whatever tool he wanted. I was supposed to know the tool required and bring it up the windmill ladder carefully but promptly.
Sometimes I brought the wrong tool, which meant I’d have to go down again, get another tool and go up again. I didn’t have any helmet or safety harness, nor did Dad. I was just expected to be responsible for myself when carrying out this duty.
I’m not sure that today’s parents would allow or expect their four or five-year-olds to do this. But I was happy to help and have that responsibility.
My father’s and my working relationship changed over the years; stations became less a part of our working lives. But it was a working relationship that didn’t see annual holidays and often required weekend work. There was no place for complaints, just work and duty, and thank goodness I had this background to help me cope later with more difficult years.
I’m very, very grateful for my upbringing. It no doubt shaped me, for better or worse, to be the person I am today. And it has helped me greatly to take a small company with few remaining assets, not to mention mortgages and legal disputes concerning most of those few assets, to become the far larger company that the Hancock Group is today.
From a small business start, we are now taking on a tier-one, world-class project that is one of the largest currently being undertaken on mainland Australia, Roy Hill. We’ve taken it from scratch, from when I first visited the area in 1992, after my father passed away, and achieved the tenements the next year, trickling in money when we could in the ’90s, and then spending much more when we could do so this century.
Roy Hill will offer work to many and, once financed and built, will provide substantial revenue for Australia. Of course, the knockers in the media write derogatory comments, endeavouring to undermine our ability to raise the finance to complete the project.
I look forward to the project getting up and running, because our nation needs it.
Our record debt, and increasingly elderly population, our run-down hospitals, inadequate defence and struggling defence families, the needs of our disabled, and… I could go on and on to demonstrate how much our country needs projects like Roy Hill, and many more like it.
And we need our young people to learn the lessons that are too rarely taught. Fortunately, there are still those who do, particularly in the country, and in family businesses.
The best way to ensure a better future for the next generation is to equip them with the knowledge, skills and attitude to work hard that they will need, and the opportunity to use them.
For how many years have we heard from a succession of politicians that they will reduce their regulations and impediments?
When will it be recognised that people should have more choice and responsibility in their own lives and businesses? They may indeed know more about both than do all the departments in Canberra. Do we really need Canberra to tell us how to run our lives better, or our businesses? So, the choice is ours to make.
Shall we cower in silence lest the left media attack us, or the government target us? Or should we fight back for a better future?
We should fight back with information, ideas and perseverance in order to let every Australian know that we need less big government and less over-spending government. There is a better way.