The Treasurer needs to make it 100 per cent clear what FIRB process was followed in the lead-up to his decision to reject certain applications for the acquisition of S. Kidman and Co. Ltd why it appears the government is picking and choosing which proposals it applies the FIRB process to.
The Treasurer has said that following a recommendation of the Foreign Investment Review Board, he has ruled the sale of S Kidman & Co’s landholdings to be contrary to the national interest.
Labor is concerned that the national party has run self interested intervention in this matter.
The Treasurer has also made reference to the properties close to the Woomera Prohibited area and Labor accepts that these are matters which are legitimately part of any such decision.
A recommendation from FIRB and any advice from Defence and/or security agencies provide legitimate grounds to decline foreign applications.
It does appear that this is a Treasurer and a Government with their training wheels on.
With the Port Darwin transaction it would seem that the Treasurer was asleep at the wheel, where there is the political interests of the National Party, the Government is quick to make a decision.
The fact is, the last time we had a high profile rejection of a foreign investment application, it was a Liberal Treasurer buckling under pressure from the National Party [Joe Hockey and ADM].
Here we are, again, in the agriculture space and a Liberal Party Treasurer has rejected a foreign investment proposal.
The Treasurer should detail fully the nature of any conversations he has had with National Party Ministers, including Barnaby Joyce, about these applications.
There must be certainty and transparency when it comes to the rules that apply to foreign investment.
Labor would also like to hear more from the Treasurer about Government efforts to encourage a re-configuration of the sale so that any national security issue can be resolved and the right signals sent to the international investment community.
The agriculture sector is in desperate need of infrastructure and other investment and foreign investment will be critical to our success.
Labor will be seeking a briefing from FIRB on the formal advice and the recommendation it has provided on this occasion.
THURSDAY, 19 NOVEMBER 2015
JOINT MEDIA RELEASE
THE HON CHRIS BOWEN MP
MEMBER FOR MCMAHON
THE HON JOEL FITZGIBBON MP
SHADOW MINISTER FOR AGRICULTURE, FISHERIES AND FORESTRY
SHADOW MINISTER FOR RURAL AFFAIRS
SPOKESPERSON FOR COUNTRY CAUCUS
MEMBER FOR HUNTER