Thursday, May 25, 2017

FIRB allows companies owned by foreign governments to buy up farmland

Posted by Jim on May 15, 2010

The Greens candidate for Wide Bay, Dr Jim McDonald, has raised concerns about Foreign Investment Review Board approvals for the purchase of agricultural land by corporations with substantial foreign government ownership.

I want to know whether land in the Wide Bay and Burnett region is been sold off to overseas companies owned by foreign governments.

The Greens’ policy on agriculture calls for the protection of prime agricultural land from urban developments and other encroachments. I would add to that the specific protection of the sovereignty of agricultural lands.

These principles are under attack by FIRB approvals of agricultural land purchases by corporations substantially owned by foreign governments.

The question of foreign investment in Australian resources and industry is one thing. It is quite a different issue when foreign governments are involved.

WAIT! There is more to read… read on »

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MEDIA LAUNCH STATEMENT: Jim McDonald for Wide Bay

Posted by Jim on April 30, 2010

I am pleased to be working with the team to elect Larissa Waters to the Senate. I expect her to be the first Greens Senator in Queensland.

She will make a quality Senator when she joins the competent women senators in the Greens who have made a significant contribution to the job of governance of this country.

Launch 30/4/10

Greens Senate Candidate Larissa Waters and Wide Bay Candidate Jim McDonald talking to the cameras


I have spent the last several weeks talking to people in the Wide Bay electorate from Murgon to Tin Can Bay and from Noosa to Maryborough.

It will be my task as the Greens candidate to bring to the fore the issues that are important to the people in the electorate.

People are sick of the spin doctors. The Greens’ polling on Climate Change makes it quite clear that people want action not spin. They want straight talking not weasel words. They want a vision for Australia not protection of vested interests. WAIT! There is more to read… read on »

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Greens will not do preference deals in Wide Bay

Posted by Jim on April 22, 2010

Greens candidate, Dr Jim McDonald, said “There will be no preference deals in Wide Bay for the Federal election.”

He was responding on comments yesterday by the National Member for Wide Bay, Hon Warren Truss and National Senator Ron Boswell.

The National Party parliamentarians said that there might be a pre-election deal between Labor and the Greens.

“Senator Boswell and Mr Truss are guilty of misinformation,” he said. “At the last Federal election, the Greens made no preference deals with any party in Wide Bay and the Nationals have made no approach to the Branch for talks on any issues.

“Wide Bay Greens have already decided not to preference any party at the next Federal election. The Branch is adamant that there should be no preference deals because of Coalition lack of environmental policies and Labor’s policies on refugees. WAIT! There is more to read… read on »

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Coal, prime agricultural land, and foreign ownership

Posted by Jim on April 19, 2010

My media checks brought up on Friday the issue of foreign purchasing of Australian agricultural land under relaxed FIRB rules [Business Week].  The Australian Greens’ website contains a couple of relevant speeches by Greens Senator Scott Ludlum on the Foreign Acquisitions and Takeovers Amendment Bill in February and Bob Brown last year on BHP-Chinaco merger.

In my view, we should be rather more careful in the national interest about allowing foreign control of Australian resources. The relaxation of control of Australian interests and resources is a product of a naive mindset about free trade, deregulation, and unfettered markets that extends from the 1970s-1980s debates about tariff protection to such matters as the too-ready importation of skilled migrants at the expense of training Australians.  That provision has generated the practice of importing labour under Section 457 visas, which has produced some  examples of exploitative practices.  And it has the high potential to undermine Australian workers’ conditions and wages.  On the question of skilled migration, I applaud Bob Brown for his call to slow down the rate of skilled migration and train more workers in Australia. WAIT! There is more to read… read on »

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Forestry sell-off a sell-out to overseas investors?

Posted by Jim on April 15, 2010

The long-term sustainability of Gympie’s forestry industry could be decimated by the State sell-off of Forestry Plantations Queensland, the Greens candidate for the federal electorate of Wide Bay, Dr Jim McDonald, said today.

The Government’s documentation for tenders states that there is strong demand for Forestry Plantation Queensland’s products. If that is so, why would the Bligh Government sell off such a good asset to foreign buyers?

For the sake of $20 million of government investment a year in a healthy industry, which last year turned in $72.4 million of sales, the State is flogging off a viable asset.

It doesn’t have the moral right to do that. That industry has been developed over the long term by taxpayers’ money for the public purse,” Dr McDonald said.

He said the environmental record of some private firms in forestry industries here and overseas has been rightly the subject of concern.

Those concerns have been brought to Gympie and the Sunshine Coast by the same State Government that proposed the Traveston Dam.

The sale not only jeopardises the job security of 400 forestry workers in the medium term, but the overall economic health of the region if the workforce is cut.

There is a strong possibility that the forests in the Gympie and Sunshine Coast regions will be in foreign hands by June this year.

One likely purchaser is John Hancock Financial Services Inc., an American group of companies that has bought up a large section of the plantation and forests industry in Victoria.

Hancock’s clear felling practices in rain catchment areas and in koala habitats have been questioned by Victorian environmentalists concerned about the sustainability of Victorian timber resources.

Environmentalists have accused the Hancock company of decimating large tracts of koala habitat in the Strzelecki Ranges in South-East Victoria and they claim the company has failed to apply proper koala management practices,” he said.

I cannot see how it is the national interest to contemplate the sale of resources such as those owned by Forestry Plantations Queensland to a foreign investment company.

The Queensland Greens in Wide Bay support the unions and the community in objecting to this sell-off of what are fundamentally our resources,” he said.

Media Release, 13 April 2010, Published Gympie Times, 15 April 2010

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Population figures by themselves are irrelevant

Posted by Jim on April 13, 2010

Gross population figures by themselves are irrelevant.  Whatever number Australia reaches by 2050 or 3000, the present growth trend will take Australia beyond the projected 35 million in Treasury’s forecasts.

The discussion about how big Australia’s population has to be, first, can we sustain the number?  That means: do we have enough water?  Do we degrade the environment by digging more coal pits and pumping more CO2 into the atmosphere?  What efficient  infrastructure do we need to reduce our reliance on oil to provide rapid and convenient transportation?    What directions should education planning take to provide a skilled workforce that is not reliant on immigration?  What technological developments that do not degrade air quality or add to toxic waste production can assist the necessary growth in productivity.  To what extent can government encourage the necessary research?  How do we go about protecting and utilising the most productive land for food cropping when so much has been alienated by urban spread?  Should we expand the protection of forests and to what extent should we expand existing plantations?

The population question generates questions on a very wide range of policy issues and that is why Bob Brown’s call for a review is the most savvy response to the current discussion.  However, if the discussion continues on in the vein of Gerard Henderson’s commentary, it will be nothing more than a fatuous focus on political spin.  The future of the Australian population is not a one-dimensional question that political spin will resolve.  The nation’s future requires a whole-of-picture approach and neither Mr Rudd nor Mr Abbott have demonstrated the vision for the future, which our politicians owe us all.

Letter to the Editor, Sydney Morning Herald, 13 April 2010 [unpublished]

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Japanese Whalers should be facing charges, not Sea Shepherd

Posted by admin on April 5, 2010

It is Japanese whalers who should be facing charges under Australian law for endangering lives, not Sea Shepherd captain Pete Bethune said Australian Greens Leader Bob Brown.

“It is absolutely unjust that Captain Pete Bethune is facing up to 15 years in prison in Japan,” said Senator Brown.

“Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and Foreign Minister Stephen Smith cannot remain silent on this case any longer.

“The Australian Federal Police are investigating an official complaint by Sea Shepherd regarding the ramming and sinking of the Ady Gil by Japanese whaling vessel Shonan Maru 2.

“Under Australian law the captain of the Shonan Maru 2 should be tried and face life imprisonment for his actions, which endangered the lives of six people.

“New Zealand police are investigating a similar complaint under New Zealand law.

Senator Brown wrote again to Foreign Minister Stephen Smith yesterday calling for the Australian Government to do all it can to assist the investigations of the Australian Federal Police.

Responding to news that the New Zealand’s whaling commissioner has decided to support a compromise deal at the International Whaling Commission that will allow whales to be killed, Senator Brown said New Zealand were completely out of touch with public sentiment.

“Like Japan, the New Zealand Government now has whale blood on their hands.”

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