FOREIGN INVESTMENT SCRUTINY A PROMISING START – BUT CONCERN STILL REMAINS

The Sustainable Australia Party’s Member of the Victorian Parliament, Clifford Hayes MP, has welcomed the announcement by the Federal Government that in the wake of the coronavirus foreign investment scrutiny is to be tightened.

From 29 March all proposed foreign investments into Australia subject to the Foreign Acquisitions and Takeovers Act 1975 will be subject to scrutiny by the Foreign Investment Review Board.

Mr Hayes said the change was sensible and in Australia’s national interest.

“Indeed, there is a strong case for making this change indefinite, and returning more rigorous scrutiny of foreign investment than we have seen for the past several decades,” he said.

“The change is designed to guard against predators swooping during the coronavirus crisis, with concern in the business community that cashed-up foreign companies could target Australian businesses flowing major losses in the share market.”

Mr Hayes expressed concern about the Foreign Investment Review Board’s willingness and capacity to respond to the new arrangements.

“First, the FIRB has a track record of approving everything and blocking nothing; it has been a rubber stamp. Secondly, the statement from the FIRB head concerning the changes suggest he is an uncritical supporter of foreign investment and has no appetite to apply more rigorous scrutiny. Mr Irvine said “Foreign investment is and will continue to be critical to Australia’s prosperity. These temporary measures…””

“The Foreign Investment Review Board has in fact been the Foreign Investment Welcome Doormat. The new arrangements, which include the Foreign Investment Review Board extending the timeframe for reviewing acquisitions from 30 days to up to 6 months, will be meaningless unless the FIRB applies them with genuine concern for the Australian national interest”.

“Coronavirus is going to lead to a rethink of the wisdom of accepting gung-ho globalisation without question. The damage to both our health and to our economy has been far reaching. Global supply chains have been broken. Stock exchanges have fallen off a cliff. Travel, education, sport, entertainment and culture have all collapsed. The message from locally-based Chinese companies buying up essential Australian medical supplies and sending them back to China will not be lost on Australians”.

I also encourage the Australian Government to examine the extent to which foreign buyers have been buying Australian farmland, potentially to the detriment of our food security, and speculating in residential property, to the detriment of the ability of our young people to buy their own home. It is Sustainable Australia Party policy to restrict the purchase of Australian residential property and land for residential development to Australian citizens and permanent residents. It is also Sustainable Australia Party policy to restrict the purchase of Australian land to Australian citizens and minimum 75% Australian-owned entities.

“We need to value and promote healthy independence and self-sufficiency, not unhealthy dependence on everyone else”.