Finance Minister can’t/won’t answer crucial questions about foreign buy ups of Aussie farms
Senator Fiona Nash -
Australians should be seriously concerned that the nation’s Finance Minister, Senator Penny Wong, is unable or unwilling to answers important questions about unchecked rising foreign investment in Australian agriculture, according to Nationals Deputy Senate Leader Fiona Nash.
“Three times in Question Time I asked the Minister about an issue that is of enormous concern to most Australians, and three times Senator Wong resorted to obfuscation and abuse,” Senator Nash said.
Senator Nash quoted a new report quantifying foreign ownership of Australian prime agricultural land at 10 per cent and suggested the Government had been wrong to more than double the threshold before which agriculture purchase proposals are referred to the Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB).
She also asked what the Government was doing about recent ninefold increases in foreign investment in agriculture to an average of $2.5 billion annually.
Senator Nash also noted Labor Trade Minister Craig Emerson had promised Chinese buyers cuts to green tape while the Government had turned down proposals to cut green tape for Australian farmers at Council of Australian Governments
“In response, I was told there is no problem with foreign investment, that Alexander Downer supports Penny Wong, that regional Australians are anti-jobs, and that green tape is none of her business even though she is the Minister for Deregulation, among other things,” Senator Nash said.
“We now have reputable studies confirming Australia is a major target for foreign governments wanting to buy into our food supplies and we have plenty of evidence this is deeply unpopular with a majority of Australians.”
“The Government can no longer dismiss this as a paranoid or bigoted scare campaign
. The threat is demonstrably real and imminent and it is the time the Government woke up and acted.”