Foreign investment

Monday, October 20, 2014 - 11:01

Foreign investment


In the news this morning was the ever increasing amount of foreign investment in Australia, much of which seems to be outside preventative legislation. In about 1975 I was I believe the first to sell rural property to the Japanese, a feedlot operation in Tasmania. It was then still quite unusual as multi billionaire Japanese Iwasaki’s agent came to see me about buying more property to settle retiring Japanese. When I jokingly said how about buying Tasmania he just responded with “How much?” In the end they bought Yeppoon in Queensland.

Foreign investors are only supposed to buy residential property off the plan which is not happening. One way legally around this is to leave the title in the name of your bank or financial institution with the added benefit that if it is sold in similar manner stamp duty is avoided.

The rest of us in the capital cities probably don’t want that illegal demand going away and seeing our house prices plummet. So we turn a blind eye. The problem is exacerbated when you have major sudo government companies buying up mining as well as agricultural property in order to produce goods at their profit which are then sold back to Australia. We demonise coal but have you ever been in Beijing in winter when you can’t see for coal dust and yellow sulphuric spots dot the cars when it rains?

Years ago my Descriptive Economics lecturer at Sydney University who worked for the Reserve Bank responded to my complaints on foreign ownership with “We need the money and can always nationalise”. I think that eventually one might turn around and it is too late. But “She’s right mate” seems to be the prevailing attitude.

So what is the problem and what does it take to turn all of this around?

Now I quite like the monarchy concept as one promoting stability but would have voted for a Republic if the question had not been untenable on how the Australian President would be elected. On the other hand, it seems as though Australia with its Queen is largely seen as a Colony and colonies are OK to quarry and exploit. To change the Australian psyche one needs to go beyond voicing “Team Australia” and come up with an Australia we can call our own. Not until then will the pollies stop kowtowing to the throne and take protecting Australia seriously.

Peter Nelson