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Give hard-working miners a break: Mark Bouris

Give hard-working miners a break: Mark Bouris
Give hard-working miners a break: Mark Bouris

The problem with being called “the lucky country” is that it’s passive.

We’re actually hard-working and optimistic. And we’re fighters. So what’s wrong with the “resilient nation”?

I went to the Twittersphere this week and asked followers: “what do you think is the BEST thing about the Australian economy right now?” These are some of the more than 75 replies:

  • @markbouris The strength & resilience shown despite high AUD, world economy & constant negative reporting
  • @markbouris it's resilience. But without some political leadership that may soon evaporate
  • @markbouris The tenacity of its people to keep going and believe that things can only get better

What struck me about the responses was the way Aussies combine sophisticated understanding of the world with old-fashioned faith in hard work.

Amid the financial stress and uncertainty, the national psyche is still about resilience and working hard, and it will get us through.

And we’ll push forward without tearing ourselves apart with the false “class war” or wealth envy as we’re seeing in Europe and the United States.

We’ve seen a brief hint of it here, but it doesn’t seem to stick. Australians want to work hard for their rewards, not to tear down those who are succeeding.

So when we see negative attention showered on the mining industry – either because the mining moguls are too rich or the miners are overpaid – I think it’s time we got away from the spin and saw this for what it is.

For a start, the mining moguls are employing people, driving exports, building infrastructure and creating billions of dollars in ancillary employment and wealth generation. Every time mining moguls build a new railway line or open a new project or sign a new supply contract, they have to employ construction companies, consultants, professionals and lots of manpower. And they all pay taxes.

Secondly, the people who work in the mining industry work incredibly hard, in remote locations, in the heat and the dust and often away from their families for extended periods. They work knowing that when China, Korea and Japan have a downturn in their industrial output, Aussie mining jobs are on the block.

So give these people a break – they’re as hard-working and ambitious as workers employed in east coast manufacturing.

Resilience shows itself in many ways. Some workers take pay cuts to keep the factory open, while business owners make sacrifices in the home to keep the business afloat. Mothers with young kids go back into the workforce to help with the bills.

Tenacity shows up in the official figures too. Bankruptcies are 6,000 per year fewer now than they were in 2010, and despite the GFC-affected global economy, our unemployment is around 5%. And we didn’t have to drop our official interest rate to zero to do it.

We’re not out of the woods yet, but if we can keep our optimism and our resilience to the fore, and avoid the temptation to turn on ourselves, this nation will emerge stronger than it ever was.

Mark Bouris is executive chairman of Yellow Brick Road, a financial services company offering home loans, financial planning, accounting and tax, and insurance.

Mark Bouris

Mark Bouris

Mark Bouris is executive chairman of Yellow Brick Road, a financial services company offering home loans, financial planning, accounting and tax, and insurance.

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