If you haven’t heard Gina Rinehart’s latest foray into the political debate around Australia’s productivity, here is an extract we found particularly shocking:
“… Business as usual will not do. Not when West African competitors can offer our biggest customers an average capital cost for a tonne of iron ore that’s $100 under the price offered by an emerging producer in the Pilbera …. Furthermore, Africans want to work and its workers are willing to work for less than $2 per day. Such statistics make me worry for this countries future.”
This follows on from her comments last week advocating a cut in the minimum wage.
Here at The Australia Institute we’re deeply concerned about the direction of the debate when someone who’s business is subsidised by government criticises low-paid workers under the guise of productivity. For some in business, productivity camouflages an argument that is much harder for them to discuss; the argument that business wants more profit at the expense of wage earners.
Let’s be clear, child care workers in Australia are among our lowest paid. Do we really want all of our child care workers, aged care workers and other low paid workers in the care industry to abandon their responsibilities and head off to the Pilbara? The social consequences of Gina’s policy prescriptions deserve serious attention.
For The Australia Institute, it is these sorts of debates that reinforce why we do what we do. If you are in a position to help fund our research and ideas that can combat this type of spin, please consider donating to our Research Fund.