Is foreign investment bad? No doubt your view will depend on whether you believe countries have a sovereign right to promote their national interest or whether you are a free market fundamentalist.
As always, the free market fundamentalists get overly excited and try to stifle debate on the issue. The problem with free market fundamentalists is that they are intolerant of other people’s views and think they have a divine right to tell political parties and the rest of us what to do.
Even within the two major political parties you have a division between the free market fundamentalists and those with the common sense to see the broader picture. There’s nothing wrong with differences of opinion even within the same political party.
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Shadow treasurer Joe Hockey today publicly rebuked his Nationals front-bench colleague Barnaby Joyce for opposing the sale of Cubbie Station to Chinese interests.
Mr Hockey, a Liberal, said Senator Joyce wasn’t speaking for the Coalition, and not even representing the policy of his own party. He was just “freelancing”.
Barnaby Joyce, who says he represents the wisdom of the Dirranbandi pub, has a record of saying things which don’t always fit neatly with the policy guidelines set by his urban Coalition partners. It could be patience with his self-promotion and positioning is running short.
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Africa is rising. Six of the fastest ten growing economies are not in Asia. They are in Africa. Indeed the African economy has outgrown that of East Asia in eight of the last ten years.
In concert with this economic growth, there has also been a growth in democracy. In Sub-Saharan Africa, 30 nations held 45 elections last year, and 20 nations will hold 38 elections this year. The Arab Spring has ushered in a new era of democracy in Africa’s north. The result is that Africa has never been more democratic.
The battle against African poverty is also looking promising. Australian aid has helped almost 750,000 people access safe water and more than half a million people access basic sanitation. In Ethiopia, child mortality has been reduced by a third in the last five years.
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Foreign investors have been snapping at the heels of Aussie farms. In spite of Cyclone Yasi, fires, floods, supermarket wars, the carbon tax and the coal seam gas industry, more than $180m worth of blue-chip farming land has been sold in south-eastern Australia since last spring, with continued interest reported from Europe, United States and China.
In other words, the world is hungry. According to the UN, the planet has 80 million new mouths to feed and by 2050, 70 per cent of people will live in urban areas. It’s no big surprise then that everyone wants a bit of Australia.
Aussie farms are a sound investment. Of the 135,996 farms in Australia, 120,941 operate as agricultural producers. The cattle, wheat and milk industries generate 12 per cent of the national GDP, a rate that’s growing. But if we sell it all off to the highest bidder, what will that mean for the future of Australian farming?
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