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Wednesday, 25 March 1987
Page: 1296


Senator SIDDONS —My question is directed to the Minister for Finance. On 9 February 1987 the Queensland Premier, Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen, stated on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation program AM that if he became Prime Minister he would scrap the Foreign Investment Review Board.


Senator Ryan —Don't you worry about that.


Senator SIDDONS —We presumably know what a possible Prime Minister of this country thinks about selling off Australia's wealth creating industries in the interests of short term capital profits. Overseas competitors, no doubt, will be delighted to learn that they are able to buy up Australia's manufacturing industries as soon as they become troublesome on international markets. Can the Minister inform the Parliament of Labor's policy in this regard? Will the Government scrap the Foreign Investment Review Board or further weaken foreign investment guidelines?


Senator WALSH —The honourable senator expressed some concern about what might happen if Petersen became Prime Minister. I think that, as Senator Ryan suggested, one answer to him-and not an inappropriate answer-is: `Don't you worry about that'. The Government did make some changes, most recently in July last year, to the operation of the Foreign Investment Review Board with the objective of making it easier for foreign investors, whether as sole investors or in partnership with Australian firms, to pursue worthwhile direct investment opportunities in Australia and to remove much of the regulatory burden on companies. As far as I know, the Treasurer does not contemplate any further changes since those made in July, but I will check that out and let Senator Siddons know.