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 »by