By JR on Tuesday, August 09, 2011
A workforce dominated by soft, satisfied idealists is "pissing away" Australia's position of economic strength and taking the nation backwards, according to the head of a Chinese-controlled mining company with multiple projects in Australia.
Andrew Michelmore, the head of MMG, which has headquarters in Melbourne but is dominated by China, said Australia was suffering from "rich country's disease" and would devolve into a welfare state unless workers rediscovered a hunger for excellence.
Addressing the Australian-British Chamber of Commerce, Mr Michelmore, the former head of Western Mining Corporation, lamented the immobility of the Australian workforce and the resulting skills shortage in remote areas like Western Australia's Pilbara region.
"People can't be bothered moving 25 kilometres to get a job because they will live off social welfare instead, and it's a real worry for me watching Australia have a luxurious time at the benefit of our relationship with China," he said.
More older people and women should be returned to a workforce which was dominated by people with "airy fairy", "idealistic" and "altruistic" attitudes.
"We need to get the grey hairs back into industry and working, we need to get more women involved in work," he said. "We need to get some hunger and drive back into this country, we are becoming soft."
A lack of workers has long frustrated the resources sector as it tries to develop billions of dollars worth of projects over the next decade.
MMG has its headquarters and three mines in Australia, one each in Queensland, Western Australia and Tasmania.
The Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union's national president, Tony Maher, rejected Mr Michelmore's comments. He said they were "a trojan horse for a Chinese labour debate".