The world’s richest woman has equated Australia’s minimum wage to “class warfare,” following her controversial article last week where she called poor workers coddled, lazy drunks. Australian billionaire Gina Rinehart, who inherited her $30 billion fortune and mining empire, pointed to workers who make less than $2 as a model for economic competitiveness in mining:
We must be realistic, not just promote class warfare. Indeed, if we competed at the Olympic games as sluggishly as we compete economically, there would be an outcry.
The evidence is unarguable that Australia is indeed becoming too expensive and too uncompetitive to do export- orientated business. Africans want to work. Its workers are willing to work for less than $2 per day. Such statistics make me worry for this country’s future.
Australia Prime Minister Julia Gillard responded harshly to Rinehart. “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,” Gillard said. “We support proper Australian wages and decent working conditions.”
Rinehart’s flawed logic draws on a popular myth among U.S. conservatives, that increasing the minimum wage would impact job and economic growth. But a significant body of research shows that higher minimum wages have no effect on employment levels.