Australian opposition eyes foreign investment scrutiny

Australia's conservative opposition on Friday earmarked tighter scrutiny of foreign investment in agriculture as a priority if the party is elected to government next year, as recent polls suggest.

Rural conservative politicians have warned against selling valuable agricultural land to foreign investors, particularly China which is Australia's top trading partner due to bullish exports of resources.

Opposition leader Tony Abbott said while he welcomed foreign investment, Australia needed to improve oversight when it came to farmland and agribusiness.

"I want to make it absolutely crystal clear that the (opposition) coalition unambiguously supports foreign investment in Australia," Abbott said as the party released a policy paper on the subject.

"We need it, we want it, it is essential for our continued national prosperity.

"What's very important though is that the public have confidence that the foreign investment we need and want is in Australia's national interest.

"All we are saying with this paper is there needs to be a sufficient level of scrutiny."

The paper called for the Foreign Investment Review Board to consider any proposed foreign acquisition of agricultural land valued at more than Aus$15 million (US$15.7 million).

It also demands any proposed foreign purchase of an agribusiness of more than Aus$53 million be scrutinised and argues for a national registrar of ownership of farmland.

It notes "growing community and industry concern that some types of acquisitions may be contrary to the national interest and that a strengthening of the regime may be advantageous to the long-term prosperity and food security of Australia".

A government study into ownership of Australian agriculture in January found that foreign firms controlled about half of the nation's key food industries but offshore investors owned just 11 percent of its farmland.

The opposition paper follows a speech by Abbott in China last month in which he said it would rarely be in the national interest to allow a foreign government to control an Australian business -- comments the government said were "dangerously dumb".

China is Australia's number one export market and its top source of imports, with two-way trade worth Aus$113.7 billion in 2011.

The two nations were reported in May to be discussing direct Chinese investment to develop northern Australian farms focused mainly on beef, sheep, sugar and dairy, in a bid to boost food security.

Treasurer Wayne Swan said the opposition's paper was a "muddle".

"The truth is the government has a very strong set of national interest guidelines which govern state-owned enterprise investment in Australia," he said.

Canberra was already looking at a possible register of foreign ownership of farmland, a move also supported by farmers, he added.

Abbott is on track to lead his Liberal/National coalition to victory in 2013 elections, with the last poll in The Australian showing he would win 56 percent of the vote to Prime Minister Julia Gillard's 44 percent.

Loading...

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • Filipino on US most wanted list killed: rebels, military
    Filipino on US most wanted list killed: rebels, military

    A Filipino on the United States' list of most wanted "terrorists" has been killed in a firefight in the southern Philippines, Muslim rebel leaders and the military said Monday. Abdul Basit Usman was killed in a remote mountainous area while being escorted by members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), the nation's biggest rebel group, its vice chairman Ghazali Jaafar said. Security forces had been hunting Usman since he escaped from a January police raid that killed Malaysian …

  • SE Asia Stocks-Mixed; Indonesia ends 7-day losing streak

    JAKARTA, May 4 (Reuters) - Southeast Asian shares mostly traded mixed on Monday, with Indonesia and the Philippines rebounding after a recent bout of weakness. Indonesian stock index rose 1.3 percent after ... …

  • Philippines says Islamist militant was killed by followers

    The Philippines' most wanted Islamist militant, whose death at the weekend could boost peace efforts in the country's south, was killed by his own bodyguards in pursuit of a bounty offered by the United States, the head of the military said on Monday. Abdul Basit Usman, a militant with strong al Qaeda links who was blamed for numerous bomb attacks in the southern Philippines, had been hunted by security forces since 2002. "There was in-fighting among his group," General Gregorio Pio Catapang …

  • EM ASIA FX-Firm dollar, weak China factory survey hurt Asia FX

    * Won falls on weak exports, PMI; mkt wary of intervention * Rupiah down on bonds, NDFs; Indonesia's Q1 GDP eyed * Philippine peso lowest in more than a month (Adds text, updates prices) By Jongwoo Cheon ... …

  • Philippine military chief confirms wanted militant killed

    MANILA, Philippines (AP) — The Philippine military chief confirmed Monday that wanted Filipino bomb-maker Abdul Basit Usman, who has links to the Indonesian-based Jemaah Islamiyah terrorist network and is a suspect in deadly bomb attacks in the south, has been killed. …

  • PSC sports venues deteriorating – COA
    PSC sports venues deteriorating – COA

    The Commission on Audit (COA) has noted the sorry state of the country’s sports venues despite supposedly receiving sufficient funds from the government. It reported that the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) got an additional budget of P626.563 million in 2013 alone but failed to maintain and upgrade the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex (RMSC) in Malate, Manila and the Philsports Complex in Pasig City. This, according to the COA report, is already a disadvantage to the country’s athletes. …

  • Taguig bettor wins P39.2-M lotto jackpot
    Taguig bettor wins P39.2-M lotto jackpot

    A player from Taguig City won the jackpot of the 6/42 Regular Lotto’s May 2 draw, the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) announced yesterday. PCSO general manager Jose Ferdinand Rojas said the still unidentified winner guessed the six-digit winning combination, 12-42-16-04-11-08, which has a jackpot of P39.2 million. At least 80 other players won P11,420 each after they guessed five digits of the winning combination. The 6/42 Regular Lotto online game is drawn every Tuesday, …

  • Tropical depression spotted off Mindanao
    Tropical depression spotted off Mindanao

    A tropical depression hovering over the Pacific Ocean is expected to enter the Philippine area of responsibility on Thursday and may bring much-needed rain to the country later this week, the state weather bureau said yesterday. As of 10 a.m. yesterday, the weather disturbance was spotted at 1,615 kilometers east of Mindanao with maximum winds of 45 kilometers per hour near the center, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) said. PAGASA said …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options