Harold Mitchell On Hard Work: Some Australians 'Coast Along By Birthright'

Aegis executive chairman Harold Mitchell wrote a revealing column for Fairfax newspapers on the weekend about the relentless work schedules of media executives.

But he also hints that some Australian workers these days are getting lazy – and being outshone by go-getting migrants.

As head of Australia’s largest media and communications agency, Mitchell has had close relationships with key industry executives such as Kerry Stokes and the Packers over his 30-plus years in the industry.

Those at the top seem never to sleep, he says.

(T)he iron men of the media world are the media owners.

I remember having a phone call one Sunday afternoon with James Packer when he sat atop the Nine Network. Business out of the way, I couldn’t help asking: “James, where are you?” “Russia,” he replied. Silly me, I should have known. Even though it was early in the morning in Russia, he was still working.

But Mitchell, who was Victorian Australian of the Year in 2013, says anyone can keep up the same pace — and it’s a simple formula.

But being an iron person … doesn’t mean you have to be an athlete or a media boss. You just have to turn up at work and forget about the clock, the smokos and the bank holidays.

Mitchell flirts with a nostalgic “back in my day” reverie before the sting:

It seems to me that many of us were real iron persons on the job a generation ago. When I was a kid, most of the people our family knew had two or three jobs…

In last week’s column we talked about the value of the diversity of cultures in our nation.

Perhaps this is not what the more prejudiced want to hear, but I reckon many migrants work a lot harder than people who think they can coast along by birthright.

As it turns out, the average hours worked by Australians have fallen over recent decades. While the actual amount of hours worked has increased along with the growth in the economy, Mitchell’s anecdotal observation is backed by the numbers from the ABS.

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You can see that report in full here – and for the latest on working hours see here.

Read the full column here.

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