MINING magnate Gina Rinehart says Australia's "mineral-rich" north, including parts of Queensland, should be granted special tax concessions to help the nation attract global investment.
In a video posted on the Sydney Mining Club website, Mrs Rinehart said over-regulation, lagging productivity, labour shortages, excessive wages and the carbon and mining taxes were rendering Australia unviable as an investment option.
Mrs Rinehart said the warnings she and others had been sounding for two years were now becoming an "accepted truth" and not the "self-interested complaints of a greedy few".
"We are becoming a high-cost and high-risk nation for investment," Mrs Rinehart said.
"These challenges are now beyond serious dispute. To point them out, I hope, is no longer a sign of self-interest but a duty and a call for action."
The world's richest woman said Australia's multi-billion-dollar investment pipeline was at risk if disappearing unless urgent action was taken.
She said "bold and imaginative plans", like investing in the north, were needed for Australia to compete on the world market.
"We need to revitalise our mineral-rich, defence-poor, people-poor north," Mrs Rinehart said.
"We need to create a large, special economic zone in our north, stretching across northern Queensland, northern Westerns Australia and the Northern Territory.
"With fewer regulations and taxes, a region that truly welcomes investment and people."
Without such action Australia would increasingly lose business to cheaper options like Africa, Mrs Rinehart said.
She said people in Africa "want to work", which meant it did experience the same labour shortage problems as Australia.
In fact some Africans were willing to take jobs for less than $2 per day, she said.
"Business as usual will not do, not when Western African competitors can offer our biggest customers an average capital cost for a tonne of iron ore that's $100 under the price of an emerging producer in the Pilbara," she said.
Treasurer Wayne Swan said Australians should be afraid of Mrs Rinehart's "$2-per-day vision for Australia".
Prime Minister Julia Gillard was equally critical of Mrs Rinehart's speech.
Mrs Rinehart said Enterprise Migration Agreements, like the one granted for the Roy Hill irone ore project in the Pilbara, would "help the nation".
The rare public appearance came just a week after Mrs Rinehart used a column in Australian Resources and Investment to call for lowering the minimum weekly wage and cutting taxes to generate employment.
She also urged people envious of her success to get out of the pub and work harder instead of complaining.
"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.
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