Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has embraced foreign investment in the nation’s agricultural sector in comments that appeared aimed at clamping down on dissent from Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce who has waged a public battle against foreign companies “buying up the farm.”
In Jakarta this morning, Mr Abbott declared that Australia was “under new management and open for business” and urged Australian business to forge stronger business ties with Indonesia, the biggest economy in the Association of South East Asian Nations.
“The coalitions view is that we are in favour of foreign investment we want foreign investment in the national interest and 99 times out of 100 it is in the national interest because 99/100 FI creates jobs and boost economic activity, “ Mr Abbott said.
Still, for the first time since he was elected just two weeks ago the PM confirmed his government would drastically cut back the amount of investment – for agricultural businesses and land – foreign companies can make without being subject to review by the Treasury Department’s Foreign Investment Review Board.
“That said there is a FI review process and the threshold for the purchase of agricultural land will be reduced to $15 million but this is not designed to lock up our country. This is designed to ensure that the Australian people understand that foreign investment that we have is welcome and it is really is in our own best interests,’ Mr Abbott said.
“And I really want to scotch any suggestion that there might be out there that somehow trade and investment is bad for Australia. Wrong, wrong, wrong. Trade and investment is good for Australia. If we have more trade and investment all countries get richer and that is good for everyone.
“Not only is Australia open for business but we are eager to do business with the wider world.”
He said that Australia was seeking investment from other nations not only in agriculture but tourism, education and manufacturing.