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World's Richest Woman Slams Aussie Work Ethic

(c) Sky News 2012

The world's richest woman has provoked a furious backlash for criticising the work ethic of Australians, saying her country is bad for business.

In a magazine column, mining magnate Gina Rinehart said Australians jealous of her wealth should spend less time drinking and more time working.

Then in a video message Ms Rinehart, who is worth almost $20bn (£12.5bn), said Australia cannot compete with Africa where wages are often less than $2 (£1.25) an hour.

In the controversial recording, made for the Sydney Mining Club, she said: "Australia is indeed becoming too expensive and too uncompetitive to do export orientated business, businesses that must sell their product in the world economy at world market, not Australian prices."

"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 is $100 under the price offered by an emerging producer in the Pilbara.

"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 country's future."

Her comments drew a quick response from Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard.

"It's not the Australian way to toss people $2, to toss them a gold coin, and then ask them to work for a day," she said.

The video followed comments made in an industry magazine by Ms Rinehart where she criticised the work ethic of some Australians.

"If you're jealous of those with more money, don't just sit there and complain. Do something to make more money yourself - spend less time drinking or smoking and socialising, and more time working,” she wrote.

Rinehart's comments coincide with growing concern about the strength of Australia's mining boom in the face of weaker demand from main customer China and tumbling prices of iron ore, its single biggest export earner.

Rinehart, whom Forbes estimated to be worth $18bn (£11.3bn) in February, opposes a recently introduced mining tax as well as taxes on carbon emissions, which has created tensions with Gillard's government.

Gillard went onto say the resources sector was doing well and had an investment pipeline of $500bn (£314.3bn) of which nearly half was at an advanced stage.

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