THE WORLD'S richest woman, Gina Rinehart, has been dealt a severe rebuke by her fellow Australians after telling them to stop drinking and work harder if they want to make more money.
Rinehart a mining magnate, made the comments in her regular column for Australian Resources and Investment magazine.
"Let's get through the class warfare smokescreen," she wrote. "We need to regain our roots and encourage people to invest and build. There is no monopoly on becoming a millionaire.
"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.
"Become one of those people who work hard, invest and build, and at the same time create employment and opportunities for others.”
Rinehart also suggested lowering the minimum wage and taxes.
With an estimated fortune of £19bn, Rinehart is the richest woman in the world. Her wealth is inherited from her father, Lang Hancock, who died in 1992, leaving his daughter in charge of Hancock Prospecting, the mining company he founded. The company owns the extremely lucrative rights to mine iron ore across large areas of Western Australia.
Rinehart's comments have provoked a furious reaction in Australia, with critics quick to point out she is not a self-made billionaire.
Ged Kearney, the head of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, told News.com: "Gina Rinehart's comments are the product of someone who has never had to earn a living and an insult to millions of working Australians who didn't have the head start of inheriting a fortune from their father and of being able to bully politicians by virtue of their inherited wealth."
Irina Cattalini, head of the Council of Social Service in Western Australia, a state that is booming thanks to investment from mining companies, told ABC News: "It's really difficult for people who haven't grown up in situations of disadvantage and poverty to really understand what the lived experience is like for people across Australia, who have really struggled to come up against the barriers to their education and the barriers to their employment."
Meanwhile, deputy prime minister Wayne Swan, of the ruling Labor Party, took the opportunity to highlight Rinehart's links to the opposition, right-wing, Liberal Party.
"The big question is whether [Liberal leader] Tony Abbott will endorse Gina Rinehart's social policies as he has endorsed her tax, industrial relations and environmental policies," he said.
"Tony Abbott is Gina's knight in shining armour when it comes to fighting for tax cuts for her and [fellow mining magnate] Clive Palmer." •