"[T]he posture of Australia in seeking overseas capital has been the posture of a puppy lying on its back with all legs in the air and its stomach exposed saying "Please, please, give us capital. Oh, tickle my tummy. Oh, on any conditions." - Prime Minister John Gorton, 1969.
To be fair though, foreign investment can be a really great thing.
For example, Australia was built on foreign investment from Britain. You see, back then Australia lacked a lot of things in which Britain had a competitive advantage, such as domesticated animals, agricultural and industrial technology, and people who were capable of turning these advantages to effect.
Britain invested capital and labour into a harsh continent and made it livable for millions.
China, incidentally, knew about Australia before then. It was where they got their salted sea slugs, so beneficial for an ageing Mandarin's super yang vitality. But to colonise the mysterious continent would have meant leaving the Middle Kingdom, sailing out to into potentially treacherous waters and possibly off the edge of the flat earth.
No, they had a better plan. Slow and steady wins the race...
But now their plans are getting thwarted by those out-and-out nationalists in the Coalition:
Treasurer Scott Morrison announced on Thursday that Australian farmland worth more than $15 million would have to be marketed to prospective local buyers for at least 30 days before it could be sold to international buyers.
The new 30-day advertising clause becomes part of guidelines the Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB) considers when assessing the sale of farmland.
What a great idea! A 30-day wait period will really make those impetuous Chinks think twice about inflating our markets with their ill-gotten cash.
Alex Thamm from Colliers International in Adelaide said the latest changes would impact private sales and possibly, prices.
"Some property owners prefer to transact off-market because they receive a good offer from a foreign investor, and now they are prevented from doing that if they have to take their property public," he said.
Oh tickle my belly, oh on any conditions!
Mr Thomas from CBRE Agribusiness agreed, saying the most important factor for any vendor and agent was the price.
"The cash doesn't have a colour or nationality; from my perspective, and it doesn't from a vendor's perspective," he said.
Mr Thomas also warned that Australia's increasing regulation of foreign investment could offend overseas countries and force buyers to look elsewhere.
"We have got something they certainly want," he said.
"But we may be coming to the point where we may be becoming a bit arrogant about that, and thinking they will keep coming.
After all, if people from overseas have money and want what we have, it would be arrogant, and probably racist, not to sell it to them.
But, come to think of it, why doesn't China reciprocate and allow us to buy their land? Do they think they're better than us or something?
Don Herrmann, from Frances in South Australia, said he wanted to buy a property across the border in Victoria to expand his mixed sheep, potato, and lucerne farming business, but could not compete against a Chinese bidder.
He said regardless of the changes to help local buyers get in first, he thinks it is still too difficult to overcome the big wallets of foreign investors.
"This won't make any difference at all; investors will just wait the 30 days then still buy it," Mr Hermann said.
"We would have loved to have bought the neighbour out to upgrade our farm but the Chinese were able to go far higher than what we could afford, or even above what it was worth.
If Australia were a dirt-poor country incapable of building its own industries, like for example all those African countries where the Chinese are moving in, perhaps that would be one thing. We could benefit from their superior farming technology and practices (like, ummm...using raw human waste as fertiliser?).
But the fact is we're an net exporter of agricultural produce, so we must be doing something right already. Agriculture contributes just under 3% of GDP, which may not sound like much, but when you consider that around 80% is taken up by "services," meaning non-productive and in many cases harmful activities (such as, oh, facilitating the sale of our country to foreigners), you realise that the ability to feed ourselves might just come in handy some day.
But OK, benefit of the doubt. As long as we don't sell off our services sector too, maybe we'll somehow be alright?
China is set to become the biggest customer for the non-renewable resource of our foodbowl. And according to the same article I just linked to, there's been a tenfold increase in land purchases just in the past year due to a China State Council policy to encourage FDI in agriculture.
Melbourne property consultant Susan Zhao established Great Southern Land Group to help small-to-medium size Chinese investors — those with up to $20 million in their pockets — buy farms in Australia, mostly family farms.
Fun fact: With $20 million they could actually afford to buy Australian citizenship and still keep their Chinese one. Then it wouldn't be classified as FDI. But just because we have exponentially increasing land purchases being openly encouraged by Chinese state authorities and brokered by "Chinese-Australians" (as well as no shortage of white traitors) whose avowed purpose is to facilitate these transactions—none of this should be taken as implying that China has any long-term goal of colonising us. What a silly idea!
Fundamentally, land is something that is non-renewable. It used to be a generally understood thing that a nation's economy should be based on that nation's own people making sound use of the natural resources a their disposal. You might sell your surplus production overseas, but you weren't supposed to actually sell your country itself.
I mean, you were actually supposed to fight for your country against anyone who wanted to take it away from you and your descendants.
Such old-fashioned ideas! But even so, you have to wonder: When it's all been sold, what then? Has anyone thought that far ahead?
The Chinese have. Time was when we used to as well.
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