One of the actions that has endeared Barnaby Joyce to many thinking people, is his proven track record of going against the party machines and indeed, crossing the floor to vote against the Coalition, on matters he strongly believes in.
He has done it “about 28” times.
He is doing it again.
From the Sydney Morning Herald:
Barnaby breaks ranks over foreign ownership of farmland
THE Nationals senator Barnaby Joyce is pushing for even tougher restrictions on foreign ownership of farmland and agribusinesses than those advocated by his party, fuelling Liberal anger at Tony Abbott’s failure to rein in National Party ”freelancing” on sensitive economic issues.
Senator Joyce told the Herald a Coalition government should impose a ”much more definitive test” of the national interest when the Foreign Investment Review Board considered foreign purchases of farmland and agribusinesses. ”There has to be a more definitive test … because right now we are not tripping the tripwire for things that are quite obviously against the national interest,” he said.
Senator Joyce said the review board should have rejected the takeover of the AWB’s commodity trading business by the multinational Cargill, and of Sunrice by the Spanish company Ebro Foods, which was ultimately scuttled by shareholders.
Citing ”palpable” concern in rural communities about foreign acquisitions, Senator Joyce advocated a shake-up of the review board to include people with agribusiness expertise.
”It’s full of merchant bankers, which might explain why the only time we have seen it say no is with the takeover of the Australian Stock Exchange, because that would have meant a lot of merchant bankers in Sydney would be out of a job … even some of my Liberal colleagues were encouraging me to speak up about that, even though we are supposed to be nasty, backward agrarian socialists,” he said.
[And why didn’t these “Liberal colleagues” speak up about it themselves, ‘eh? Food for thought. More below]
The Nationals leader, Warren Truss, has advocated lowering the threshold for review board scrutiny from $244 million to $20 million but has not specifically suggested the board use a tougher national interest test.
Last week Mr Abbott, the Coalition leader, appeared to back Mr Truss’s position, saying he was ”looking at a very significant reduction in the threshold” for scrutiny by the review board.
He did not nominate a new threshold.
Many Liberals, opposed to any big change in foreign investment rules, are furious at apparent policy announcements before decisions have been made.
One Liberal MP said it was ”yet another example of National Party freelancing on economic issues, without clear repudiation from the leadership, despite the fact that there has not been a decision and the party room has not yet discussed it”.
Another said: ”The Nats are being allowed to say whatever they like, even though it is not policy.”
They’re “being allowed” to “say whatever they like”?
“Even though it is not policy”?
Just as they should.
As everyone should.
Party politics, the silencing of individual MPs, the enforcement of party policy even where contrary to the will of an MP’s local electorate and/or his own conscience, is a vile, despicable, morally (1) and intellectually (2) unjustifiable blight on so-called “democracy”.
It is WRONG.
I for one am stoked that Barnaby is making waves with his stance on foreign ownership of Australian farmland.
Your humble blogger has written on the topic of our governments selling the farm before.
Barnaby is right.
h/t Twitterer @LyndsayFarlow