Gina Rinehart
Gina Rinehart inherited her father's Australian mining company in 1992. She is now worth around $18bn. YouTube

If there's anyone who would know about entitlement, it's a billionaire mining magnate who inherited much of her wealth.

Gina Rinehart, Australia's richest woman and owner of mining giant Hancock Prospecting, has lashed out once again at those on the lower rungs of society's ladder.

She said her country's AU$130bn (£71bn, €85bn, $119bn) social welfare bill will hold back the economy. But rather than blaming poor wages, a high cost of living or other socio-economic factors for the high welfare cost, Rinehart believes it's all down to an "age of entitlement".

"This 'age of entitlement' and its consequences is creating problems for all of us, our children and our grandchildren. Strong leadership will be the key," she wrote in an article for the Australian Resources & Investment Journal.

She wrote: "Australians have to work hard or actually harder and smarter to create the revenue to be able to pay that bill. Something has to give, we can't do it all."

Who does Rinehart hold up as the model strong leader? Ironically, it's the miners' bane Margaret Thatcher.

"Our political leaders are fortunate to have a leader they can emulate, a leader who well understood fundamental economic matters, critical for all countries and their standards of living," Rinehart, who is worth around $18bn, wrote.

"Margaret Thatcher took courageous decisions in the interests of Britain, despite the obvious noisy detractors.

"Thatcher steered through a lack of courage in her own political party, which had become riddled with lefties or 'non-courageous wets' and self-interested power mongrels, who didn't grasp or didn't want to grasp what was needed for their own country."

She added: "What Thatcher did for Britain our own leaders should do for us - cut spending, cut waste, cut the shackles and back hard workers."

Rinehart, who inherited her father's mining company in 1992, has got form. In 2012 she suggested the minimum wage in Australia should be lowered to just AU$2 a day in order for labour costs to be competitive with poverty-stricken Africa.

In a separate 2012 article for the same journal as her latest controversial comments, Rinehart said the poor should "spend less time drinking, or smoking and socialising and more time working."

"There is no monopoly on becoming a millionaire," Rinehart wrote.

"If you're jealous of those with more money, don't just sit there and complain."