"When it comes to foreign investment and the national interest, we've been treated like mugs."
Despite my name, I'm not Xenophobic!
Foreign investment clearly can play an important role in developing Australia's economy. But the issue is that the current foreign investment rules are too lax and too vague to protect the national interest.
For instance, did you know that a private overseas company or individual doesn't have to get government approval to buy prime agricultural land, or food production facilities, unless the value is over $248million?
Other countries understand the emerging importance of global food security by investing billions of dollars in Australian farms and food production. Why don't we?
Australia needs to be aware of how much of our agricultural land we are selling and to whom, so that we can maintain our food security and food supply chain. If we lose control over large areas of land and food production, we may be faced with a shortage of viable agricultural land to produce our food.
I have co-sponsored legislation to lower the threshold for scrutiny of foreign investment in agricultural land from $248million to $5million. What's more, the legislation spells out a national interest test, instead of the vague rubbish we have now.
Australia should be able to feed the world with Australian owned farms and food production. That must also involve revamping our investment and tax laws to encourage that to happen.