Thursday, May 25, 2017

State and Federal Governments betray Australia on food security

Posted by Jim on January 20, 2011

The Federal and State Governments are betraying Australia’s interests by allowing large scale buyouts of top quality agricultural land in this country, according to the Greens Spokesperson for Noosa and Wide Bay , Dr Jim McDonald.

He said it was already happening on the Sunshine Coast. Dr McDonald was commenting on a report in the Noosa News [18 January 2011] on a multi-national corporation’s purchase of the Yalanga property near Kin Kin by Nexis Holdings, increasing its holdings on the Sunshine Coast to 2,140 hectares. Nexis bought up 500 hectares in two macadamia farms on the Coast early last year.

Dr McDonald said, “Under present foreign acquisition rules, foreign companies are buying up large tracts of land in anticipation of the effects of climate change on world food production. If that continues, Australia will not only become the world’s quarry, but will have lost control of its food production to foreign interests.

In the past few years, the Federal Government has sat on its thumbs while corporations owned by foreign governments have bought prime land as part of their food security strategy. Under current rules Nexis has no obligation to submit its purchase of Yalanga to the Foreign Investment Review Board for a reported $25 million because it is under the FIRB limit of $231 million. Yet the Nexis purchase is part of a strategy to buy up half a billion dollars worth of land in Northern NSW and Queensland.”

He said that the Nexis announcement on Yalanga, which is only a few kilometres from Boreen Point, left its future intentions unclear. Nexis does not have an agricultural base and recently bought up 50 percent equity in a limestone quarry in NSW for prefabricated concrete building panels.

It is an outrage against the nation that there is presently no Federal strategy to protect the best agricultural land from foreign control and no cohesive food security strategy as a hedge against climate change. At the same time, the Queensland Government allows mining and coal seam gas exploration to degrade our best land.

Examples of foreign government controlled corporations buying up agricultural land include Hassad Food, which is part of the Qatar Government’s Investment Authority. Hassad Food last year bought up 165,000 hectares of a group of NSW grazing properties and is buying properties on a global scale as a direct part of Qatar’s strategy of building food security against future pressures on food production.

In another case, Shenhua Watermark Coal Pty Ltd, has bought up prime farmland for open cut coal mining on the Liverpool Plains in NSW. Shenhua is a subsidiary of the China Shenhua Energy Company, which is 68% owned by the Chinese Government.

State and Federal Governments also betray our region by failing to produce a strategy for food security in South-East Queensland. Government-owned farmland in the Mary Valley lies fallow and there is no thought given to developing the region in a post carbon economy.

South Australian Senator, Nick Xenophon, has introduced a private members bill to require FIRB scrutiny of foreign purchase of land over 5 hectares. Dr McDonald said this required all significant foreign purchases to be scrutinised. He said a failure to develop a food security strategy would leave open the possibility of FIRB rubber-stamping the sale of land, which should be reserved first for feeding Australia’s growing population let alone Australian companies exporting the surplus to the rest of the world.

Jim McDonald, Greens Spokesperson, Wide Bay Federal Electorate, Media Release, 18 January 2011

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