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BHP chief: Don’t pick on the rich

Would Australians feel better if its richest people left the country and took their investments elsewhere?

It shouldn’t, according to BHP Billiton’s (ASX: BHP) chairman Jac Nasser, who has come out in support of mining billionaires Gina Rinehart and Fortescue Metal Group’s (ASX: FMG) Andrew ‘Twiggy’ Forrest, against attacks from Federal Treasurer, Wayne Swan. Even billionaire Clive Palmer has been singled out for criticism by the treasurer.

According to a report in today’s Australian Financial Review, Mr Nasser said that he was disappointed by the divisive comments, which, he said was trying to pit the poor against the rich and divide the push the company towards class warfare.

He went on to say that Australians should be congratulating and looking up to people who build and create growth and wealth, rather than discouraging wealth creation.

He might have a point when you consider the amount of jobs and wealth that Australian billionaires have created, not just for themselves but all Australians. Consider the number of people that are currently, and historically, employed by companies like Fortescue, Ms Rinehart’s Hancock Prospecting, as well as James Packer’s Crown Limited (ASX: CWN), and Consolidated Media Holdings Limited (ASX: CMJ), or Frank Lowy’s Westfield Group (ASX: WDC).

Where would our superannuation funds be, if not for some of our largest companies being driven by those very same billionaires? Likewise, how well would our economy be doing, if not for the decisions of those very same people to take the risk of investing huge amounts of capital within Australia?

Mr Nasser went on to say that he was disappointed that current debate centred around penalising success instead of trying to enhance it. Political leaders had missed opportunities to engage with industry and develop long-term goals and stable frameworks to promote investment, he said.

He also suggested that the current fall in commodity prices should be a wake-up call for everybody, that the resources industry was cyclical, and commodities couldn’t stay high forever.

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Motley Fool writer/analyst Mike King owns shares in BHP. The Motley Fool’s purpose is to help the world invest, better. Take Stock is The Motley Fool’s free investing newsletter. Packed with stock ideas and investing advice, it is essential reading for anyone looking to build and grow their wealth in the years ahead. Click here now to request your free subscription, whilst it’s still available. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Bruce Jackson.

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