Coalition to target foreign farm buyers

06 Jan, 2012 04:48 AM
Joe Hockey.
Joe Hockey.

FOREIGN investment in agricultural assets, which many Australians see as ''unrestricted, unrestrained, uncontrolled'', would be subject to much greater scrutiny under a Coalition government, says the shadow treasurer, Joe Hockey.

In an exclusive interview with the Sydney Morning Herald, Mr Hockey revealed a review of foreign investment guidelines would be part of the Coalition's economic policy agenda.

''There is room for better and more transparent analysis of foreign investment,'' he said. ''There is a perception issue that there is unrestricted, unrestrained, uncontrolled foreign investment, particularly in agriculture. We may well flag changes to foreign investment rules, and we will have more to say about that.''

Foreign buy-up of Australian farms and food security is a hot issue for many Coalition voters. A government-commissioned report on the issue by the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics is expected to be released this month.

At present, foreign ownership laws kick in only when investments exceed $230 million.

A Senate inquiry chaired by the Liberal senator Bill Heffernan is also looking into the issue.

Mr Hockey also identified the government's $36 billion national broadband network as the Coalition's big political target this year.

The broadband network was by far the biggest off-budget initiative ever seen in Australian government, Mr Hockey said, referring to government programs that have not been accounted for in the federal budget. The broadband network is treated as a government asset and not as a budget item.

''I mean, it's multiples of anything that's ever been off-budget … it detracts from productivity,'' he said.

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Bushie Bill
6/01/2012 6:23:10 AM

Ah, Little Joe, ever the cynical populist, running around the prairie, whooping it up in his clapped out old Toyota. A big hat, no cattle man if ever there was one, with the Big-Eared Rabbit running neck and neck.
love the country
6/01/2012 6:28:15 AM

its good to see at last some pollies taking notice, in wa our land is getting bought up, and guess what, the production of grain is getting sent back to the homeland to feed themselves. smart move, but it needs to be controlled.
6/01/2012 7:44:44 AM

This really needs to be addressed immediately. 18% of water (let alone land) in SA is now foreign owned, huge tracts of irrigation properties in other states are now foreign owned...nothing wrong with some foreign investment but it's gone too far. Bushie Bill, I assume your pathological hatred of Australian farmers makes you happy to see your own country being sold out, no doubt you've an economic model to re-assure yourself it's for the best. Sadly it's the ignorant masses who also think like you, overpaid and underworked, that will live to see their little worlds collapse around them.
John Niven
6/01/2012 10:20:07 AM

I have mentioned before Bushie Bill is a stooge, it is impossible to be so ignorant. Borrow overseas money by all means, selling Australia should be banned.
Bushie Bill
6/01/2012 10:30:45 AM

Ah Bluey, you sound "tired and emotional", and you are letting your mouth get ahead of your brain. Reign in your mouth, old son, and ask the following questions: If the land is worth $x to a foreign buyer, why is it worth less to an Australian buyer? If you personally received a foreign bid for your major asset (and retirement fund) that no Australian buyer could match, what would you do? Would you (quietly) accept the offer, reject the offer, and if it is reject, whinge like hell about your sacrifice and expect the Australian taxpayer to compensate you? Which, Bluey?
Bushie Bill
6/01/2012 10:33:37 AM

General question Bluey: why should any seller of any asset be prevented from accepting the highest bid available after determining that the purchaser and purchasing funds have met every legal requirement of them?
diesel head
6/01/2012 10:42:16 AM

Bluey states that Bushy Bill has a hatred for farmers. What is Bushy's crime? Allowing the farmer who wishes to sell, to take advantage of the higher prices for farm land that buying competition will generate. A liquid market also improves the equity position of those farmers who wish to stay farming. Bushy Bill is the real friend of the farmer while the likes of Joe Hockey and Bluey are pretenders who don't give a rats whisker about the consequences of their xenophobic ideas on farmers.
6/01/2012 2:15:00 PM

Diesel head I've nothing against foreign investment, but it has to be managed. Is it good business to sell another 50,000 ha of blue ribbon irrigation land to say, Qatar, so they can produce their own lamb, or produce that lamb here and sell it to them? Short term monetary gain is hardly a recipe for a prosperous Australian agriculture industry into the future. A foreign company now controls our wheat exports. Last year alone China purchased another 70,000 ha of prime land in WA, as well as owning a quarter of our water in southern Australia. (cont.)
6/01/2012 2:22:18 PM

Qatar now owns hundreds of thousands of hectares of blue ribbon irrigation country in eastern Australia producing lamb for themselves. In New Zealand any purchase of land over 5 ha by foreign buyers is strictly assessed. Same in every other developed country, Except Australia. Through years of neglect and pure bastardry our agricultural sector is being bought by countries who can't believe their luck (and our lunacy). Like all our other industries that have been sold out, don't complain when our future youth are nothing but farmhands, employed by foreign owned interests.
6/01/2012 4:48:08 PM

Bluey What foreign company controls Australia's wheat exports?
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