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Australian Investment Agriculture Farms Food Xenophobia

From MacroBusiness Crikey takes Barnaby to the woodshed I don’t often agree with Crikey’s Bernard Keane’s economic views but today he’s done well shoving Barnaby Joyce and his ilk into the wood chipper:

‘Xenophobia has been a recurring phenomenon in rural politics over the decades. The anti-Semitic League of Rights, which struggled for control of the Country Party in the 1970s, was intensely hostile to foreign investment. So too was One Nation, a primarily regional entity. And it was the Coalition that brought to an end Australia’s post-war open-door policy on foreign investment, with the Gorton and McMahon governments establishing foreign investment and ownership restrictions; the Whitlam government took that economic nationalism further after 1972, and it has never been substantially wound back except via selective free trade agreements….

….But the Nationals have been growing ever more hostile to foreign investment in agriculture in recent years, and the reason lies in the success of that industry.’

I agree. The failure of Australian farmers to corporatise successfully has been largely offset by foreign investment for several decades and it should be allowed to continue to do so. And no, it is not a security issue so long as markets are open. And if someone else closes them then you can always nationalise your output.”


Foreign Agriculture Farm Food Investment Australia

Deserted Farm House Southern NSW


From The Conversation Why not let agriculture benefitfrom foreign investment?  Why do we clamour to keep foreign-owned car makers here, paying them billions of dollars to stay, while being wary of foreign investment in farms?

Around 0.1% of foreign investment last year was in agriculture, with mining receiving 30%, manufacturing close to 19% and the rest in various service industries.

We know that foreign investment creates jobs and brings new technology and production methods. We don’t want the mining boom to suddenly stop and neither do we want foreign investors to pull out of our struggling manufacturing sector.

There is no reason why we should wish anything less for our agricultural sector.

Recent interest in buying farmland has come from Chinese and Indonesian companies, whereas in the past, overseas investment in farmland has been mainly from US and British companies, which are still by far the main players in foreign-owned farmland in Australia.’


They speak generally of xenophobia referring to Australian Country Party now National Party and related groups such as the League of Rights, One Nation etc.. and comments on both articles add further to the stirred up emotions on foreigners in Australia.

One needs to understand that Australia had a ‘white Australia’ policy only a generation or two ago with its effects still being felt, but through proxy issues such as foreign ownership of agricultural land, often cited by white nativists, are used to support notion of “fortress Australia” (along with population growth, immigration levels, traffic congestion, infrastructure, identity, assimilation, English language skills, competition in labour market, international students, Chinese (new jews?) etc. etc.)

Many of the same journalists in Australia rightly complain about xenophobia and open racism, yet are happy (one hopes unwittingly) to take seriously nativist ideology through promoting the nativists’ proxy issues without empirical evidence (as do many on the left including the Labor Party, the architects of white Australia policy).

Bob Birrell and colleagues at Monash University’s CPUR  have been feeding media and policy makers for decades (e.g. being cited in Quadrant magazine who appeared to influence the Country party, current affairs tv etc.).. yet nobody has woken up to it?  

Simple research shows that Birrell et al, like O’Connor of Sustainable Population Australia, have all contributed to The Social Contract Press founded by John Tanton, racist founder of the modern anti immigration movement, and admirer of the white Australia policy….. this alone should preclude any media outlet from using their “research”.


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