Tag Archives: foreign ownership

Who Owns 66% Of Australia’s Debt? Anonymous Fronts

7 Aug

From the Australian Office of Financial Management (AOFM) Public Register:

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

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“As A Nation We Are Owning Less But Owing More”

12 Jul

A superb, insightful op-ed from Barnaby Joyce in the Canberra Times:

GrainCorp may be purchased by Archer Daniel Midland. Photo: Natalie Behring

GrainCorp may be purchased by Archer Daniel Midland. Photo: Natalie Behring

To be a strong nation, we must focus on core beliefs

What do you believe in? What would you give your political career up over, rather than compromise?

If politics is the jousting of social clubs, then a politician can be anything on any day, which is a little dangerous. Have we now such a greater fascination with form over substance that it has really become a quasi thespian frolic devoid of Lincoln, Churchill and Julius Caesar.

Are we just minnows usurping the space that would be better returned to the page three babe in a bikini? Is that who we are, a people who as a nation are owning less but owing more?

There has got to be a political spine that the nation stands on, a set of principles that hurt because you stand by them: family as traditionally proposed, even if it’s not your personal reality; small business, the farmers and the shops, despite the lubricious entrapment of economic policy, a policy that has a tendency to favour the large over the small and in many instances the external over the domestic.

The mining boom is waning, prices are falling, our debt is rising and our economy cannot put its hand to an international champion that is domestically owned. BHP is majority foreign-owned, Rio is not even based here anymore. There is no international agricultural champion that is Australian-owned.

If Graincorp is purchased by Archer Daniel Midland, we will have yet another impediment to becoming the agricultural powerhouse of South East Asia. Under the current conditions our debt both public and private is higher than it ever has been and getting worse so our economic bible has taken us to a peculiar religious experience.

Our belief in a global rule book is going to be challenged by a new Asian reality that gives scant regard to wishes but exploits our weaknesses. Our terms and conditions will be just ours, as seen this week when Yancoal stepped away from their Foreign Investment Review Board conditions.

After a mining boom we should be flush with funds, instead we are $258 billion in gross debt and conducting an increasingly desperate search for what will take the place of mining. Maybe live exports because we have excelled there!

China is creating a deeper pool of offshore liquidity as it moves to replacing the US dollar as the global reserve currency. That is a global game-changer and, if we are not fully versed in all the ramifications of that massive power shift we will be in a long term strategic disadvantage.

All this is happening but what is the political debate about? Kevin Rudd managing the process of how Rudd got rid of Gillard, a slew of new ministers from treasury to agriculture with little or no expertise in their new portfolios, a tawdry attempt to politicise indigenous recognition when nothing but bipartisan goodwill has been shown on this issue thus far.

What we can take out of the indigenous recognition issue is, in the history of humankind and economics benevolence takes a backseat to greed. This is the reality of human nature which we ignore at our peril.

Europeans basically dispossessed and exploited the resources that had belonged to indigenous Australians. In a more complicated form that process is still at foot but it is just being conducted by different parties in a more clandestine form. It is naïve to think a policy desire that relies on international relations can be delivered to the detriment of that specific external nation.

Here is my point: when you look at the deeper issues, the more relevant issues that are vital to our nation’s future today, they are not the ephemeral issues that Mr Rudd appears to be engaged with.

Mr Rudd has not changed. He is a man of media, earnestly delivered with sometimes flawed and brash statements.

Whether he has the competency to guide our nation over the longer term is unlikely on previous form.

Barnaby is right.

“It’s Full Of Merchant Bankers”: Barnaby

17 Mar

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:

"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". Photo: Stefan Postles

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 jobeven 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.”

Quelle horror!

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.

Consider this – Try Asking 1.3 Billion Stomachs Armed With Nukes To Give Our Food Back.

Barnaby is right.

UPDATE:

h/t Twitterer @LyndsayFarlow

Australia’s Property Bubble: It’s Here

27 Mar

From the Sydney Morning Herald:

It’s official: 60 per cent of investors believe Australia has a property bubble. A confluence of housing shortages, low interest rates, speculative fervour and last year’s move by the Rudd Government to relax foreign ownership rules on real estate have turbo-charged house prices.

This is all scary stuff.  Investors played a key role in expanding the property bubble through the late 90s. In 1990 investment loans represented 16 per cent of Australian mortgages at $13 billion. By 2008 that figure had ballooned 2400 per cent to $310 billion, or 31 per cent of total mortgages. Investor attitudes matter.

The survey revealed, however, that moral hazard may be much larger than investors themselves admit, with 42 per cent expecting the Rudd Government to introduce another round of first home buyer grants if the current boom shows signs of ending.

The increase in foreign purchases also cannot be under estimated, following the decision last March by the federal government to relax its rules on property ownership. This abolished mandatory reporting of such acquisitions in a bid to ”enhance flexibility in the market”.

Before the change, foreign investment in Australian residential property had already started increasing, up 33 per cent to $20.4 billion. It is not known what the figures stand at in 2010 but there are suggestions that more than 30 per cent of homes auctioned are purchased by foreign speculators. If this is the case, it will dramatically add to the property bubble.

It is a potential political time bomb. Numerous readers have written in complaining that they are being priced out of the market by overseas bidders…

Another Investor Pulse reader wrote: “So much for Rudd’s ‘working families’. Australians should get priority over foreign investors for what limited housing we have. How can Australians compete when Chinese borrow at home at 1 per cent? The Australian property market is strong and doesn’t need to be propped up. The Government should act now to stop this misguided and UN-Australian policy. Shame on you, Mr Rudd, for selling out on Working Families.”

Barnaby Joyce is the only Australian politician who has been brave enough to endure smears and criticism, by daring to question the Rudd Government’s relaxing policies on foreign investment.

Here’s just one of Senator Joyce’s press releases on the topic from last year,  “FIRB Changes – Australia’s Sovereignty At Risk“:

Senator Joyce today called on Treasurer Wayne Swan to re think his undermining of the present system of reviewing foreign investments and takeovers.

Mr Swan’s announcement should sound very loud alarm bells to anyone concerned with maintaining Australia’s sovereignty over its resources and business interests given that  Mr Swan plans to remove  Foreign Investment Review Board supervision of over 20 percent of all business applications currently reviewed by the board.

This effective sidelining of the FIRB relating to a substantial number of applications is deeply troubling as it removes a long standing and much needed level of accountability and transparency of foreign investment in Australia particularly by individual investors from countries such as the Peoples Republic of China.

It is astounding Mr Swan would seek to punch such a big hole in Australia’s foreign review processes, leaving the back door wide open for foreign interests to buy Australia paddock by paddock, business by business without any accountability to the Australian people.

Unfortunately for Australia each of the announced measures will allow that hole to get bigger to the detriment of Australia’s sovereignty and its national interest.

Yet again, Barnaby is the only one who is on the ball.

UPDATE:

From The Age:

Foreign buyers inflating market

Reserve Bank governor Glenn Stevens says foreign buyers are a factor in rising house prices.

Mr Stevens said the bank was monitoring how much the federal government’s decision last March to relax its rules on foreigners owning property had contributed to surging prices for housing.

He said the role of foreign purchases was ”an important one and it’s one we’re giving some attention to”.

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