Selling off Australia

The amount of foreign ownership of Australian land and of Australian companies is of concern to many Australians who have watched the buying up of our lands and businesses over the last few decades.

In an article published on the ABC’s website, Martin Feil (economist and author) said “It is frightening to think just how much dominance of the Australian market and acquisition of Australian assets there has been in the past 20 years. My concern is that Australia will eventually be substantially owned and operated by the USA and China. We don’t have a clue how many of our businesses and how much of our property they already own and operate.”[1]

One recent report said that “Australia’s mining wealth was now 87 per cent foreign-owned, and that $50 billion in dividends from mining companies operating on our shores would flow overseas over the next five years”.[2]

Martin Feil has reported that the purchase of Australian assets by foreign companies have to be investigated by the Foreign Investment Review Board if the asset is valued over $200 million, but – due to a deal made under John Howard’s Liberal Party government – US investment does not have to be investigated unless the value is over $1 billion.[1] What the ?! Has the Labor Party brought in a law to change this? Not that we have heard of.

The FIRB investigates foreign business investments of over $231 million and non-residential commercial real estate worth over $50 million.[2] However, $50 million buys an awful lot of land; as does the next $50 million, and the next $50 million, etc. Besides which, the word on the street is that the FIRB isn’t that much use as a watchdog anyway, with it being regarded as “useless”, or worse. On top of this the FIRB has been described as “notoriously opaque (non-transparent) in ensuring detailed data on foreign investment are made available to the public”.[3, 4, 5]

Senator Barnaby Joyce once said of the Foreign Investment Review Board that “It’s full of merchant bankers, which might explain why the only time we have seen it say no is with the takeover of the Australian Stock Exchange, because that would have meant a lot of merchant bankers in Sydney would be out of a job”.[6]

China has become a major buyer of Australian assets, and has heavily bought up mining and energy resources, as well as large amounts of farm land.[2] When Australian miners and farmers sell their produce to China and the USA, a lot of foreign earnings pour into our country, but when the Chinese and the Americans own our mines and farms, then that cash flow slows to a trickle. Even more so when they hire their own personnel to run their enterprises in Australia.

The current situation sounds crazy. Why would Liberal and Labor let this happen? The major parties are one Freudian slip away from complete economic madness.

All countries are bound to have some level of foreign ownership of assets at some stage, but if that level spirals out of control, then there will be dire consequences for the general population. It is the same situation with trade; all countries enter into foreign trade, which can be economically beneficial, but if the politicians destroy our tariff barriers, with the resultant killing-off of our manufacturing industries, then there will be even more dire effects. Bad economic decisions create consequences that will be long-term, even to the extent of consigning many Australian families into poverty-stricken conditions for generations to come. Do we really want ever-increasing numbers of Australians to become dependent on welfare payments, instead of having the opportunity to be able to work for a living?

Australia’s major economic assets should be used for the financial benefit of Australians; the current “free for all”, of buying up Australian lands and resources, needs to be brought under sensible economic control, to ensure the future economic well-being of the Australian people.

[1] “Australia: owned and operated by the USA and China”, The Drum (Australian Broadcasting Corporation), 8 February 2012 (Martin Feil)
[2] “Concern grows over foreign ownership of Australian farmland”, The Advertiser, 30 June 2011 (Cameron England)
[3] “Row on blocking of ASX Sale”, Bill Heffernan, 13 April 2011 (Senator Bill Heffernan)
[4] “Farmland issues eat into food security”, Nick Xenophon, 10 April 2012 (Senator Nick Xenophon)
[5] “Don’t blame foreign investment for rising house prices”, Fat Cat, 1 October 2012 (Philip Soos)
[6] “Barnaby Joyce breaks ranks over foreign ownership of farmland”, Sydney Morning Herald, 16 March 2012 (Lenore Taylor)


  1. Stephen Lake says

    I despair of our governments. They sell the carpet out from under our feet just to appease foreign nations, the UN and to look good with money in the bank. I regard it as treason that successive governments have done this. I’m at a loss. I would also like to make the point that one reason the governments’ gave for selling off our country’s assets such as Qantas, the commonwealth bank, etc. is that government should not be competing with private industry. But then they sell large chunks of land and mining rights/companies to chinese company’s which are in turn owned by the Chinese government. So it’s not ok for the Australian government to compete with private industry but it’s ok for a foreign government to compete. Why has our government and society gone so awry?? Of course as we get more immigrants then there is a greater population that supports the greatest sell off in Australian histry.

  2. Stan Claypole says

    It’s not just for our economic wellbeing; it’s food security, maintaining sovereignty, it’s everything.

    • Stephen Lake says

      The last part of your sentence says it all ” it’s everything”. It’s as simple as selling your home to then rent it from the owner – it puts us in a position of complete vulnerability. It also means that the government can be put under more and more pressure from foreign companies and governments to conform with their wishes.

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