Mining billionaire Gina Rinehart has praised Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his approach to cutting red tape, arguing Australia has become a nation where compliance is more important to government than performance.
At an elite gathering of business leaders at Mr Modi’s house in New Delhi to launch Mrs Rinehart’s second book, she revealed that if she knew what she knows now about building a significant mining project in Australia, she doubts she would have proceeded with her $US10 billion ($13bn) Roy Hill project.
“Roy Hill has faced more than 4000 government approvals, permits and licences — and that doesn’t count many, many more for construction,” she said in a speech to launch her book Red Tape to Red Carpet … and then some.
“It’s been hard work, long hours, dedication, perseverance, risk, money and spending time with enormous Australian red tape.”
Former prime minister Paul Keating, who was in India on business, was in attendance along with Trade Minister Andrew Robb and a delegation of Australia’s top business chiefs who were attending the Australia-India CEO forum led by Rio Tinto boss Sam Walsh.
Patrick Suckling, Australia’s high commissioner in India, praised Mr Keating and Ms Rinehart as “great Australians” for their commitment to advancing Australian-India relations and trade.
Mrs Rinehart, who has a coal joint venture in Queensland with Indian company GVK, named her book after Mr Modi’s policy of red tape to red carpet, which she says sums up what drives economies and living standards all over the world.
“Mining is perhaps the most regulated of all industries in Australia — and yet my country owes so much of its prosperity to mining,” she said.
“Layers of red tape just keep pushing up costs in Australia and frankly Australia can’t afford this, particularly when our crucial export commodity prices are very soft and we are moving towards a larger elderly proportion of people in our country, meaning a smaller working base and more requiring seniors support. But say this and you are speared and ridiculed by Australia’s Left.”
Mr Modi, who is on the cover of the book, said Mrs Rinehart had become a special friend, and a friend of India. He also said that her book reminded him of one of his old statements. “I have been saying that the problems of public administration will end if politicians learn how to say ‘no’ and if bureaucrats know how to say ‘yes’. This is the reason that we have devoted maximum energy on changing the mindset.”
Mrs Rinehart said that in India it was recognised that red tape could lead to corruption, so it was being cut.
“In Australia, lack of compliance with red tape can lead to vindictive and time and money wasting actions,” she said.
“Australia needs to act to shed its red tape and reputation for being an expensive and unwelcoming place to do business.”
Mrs Rinehart, who was joined by her daughter Ginia at the event, signed books for all those in attendance.