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Australian 'mums and dads' should be owners of Australian assets: Barnaby Joyce -

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KIM LANDERS: For more, the Deputy Prime Minister and Agriculture Minister, Barnaby Joyce, joins me now.

Good morning.

BARNABY JOYCE: Good morning. How are you?

KIM LANDERS: Well, thank you. Do you think this bid should receive the green light from the Foreign Investment Review Board?

BARNABY JOYCE: Well, I'm not here to tell the Foreign Investment Board what to do. Obviously, I'm always enthusiastic when a majority-Australian company is buying Australian land. So let's see how it goes.

KIM LANDERS: So do you think they have got the balance right by having a majority-Australian-owned bid this time round?

BARNABY JOYCE: Well, I'll let them make that decision, obviously. I'm just saying the bleeding obvious: that I think most Australians prefer it if large Australian assets are majority owned by Australians, as opposed to majority owned by foreigners.

KIM LANDERS: Does this arrangement make it less of a political hot potato?

BARNABY JOYCE: Well, yes it does. But whether it's you know… I'll let the Foreign Investment Review Board do its own work.

KIM LANDERS: Senator Jacqui Lambie has tweeted this morning that the Chinese are using Gina Rinehart to control Australia's biggest agricultural holding?

BARNABY JOYCE: Well, Jacqui would know, wouldn't she?

KIM LANDERS: What do you think?

BARNABY JOYCE: I think she's talking out of her hat.

KIM LANDERS: You're friendly with Gina Rinehart. Did you give her any advice on this bid?

BARNABY JOYCE: No, I didn't. In fact, I made a point of not talking to her about it. In fact, I made a point of not talking to her, nor talking to any people from her staff. You know, I want to make sure that this is completely and utterly at arms' length.

KIM LANDERS: So you're hoping that this might be third time lucky for the bid to sell Kidman?

BARNABY JOYCE: Look, I'm not so… The issue about whether Ms Rinehart - or Gina Rinehart - is buying is neither here or there. But I do like the idea that something that's majority Australian is buying it. And the rest I leave up to the Foreign Investment Review Board.

KIM LANDERS: This majority Australian bid: do you think that that could be the template for what you regard to be an acceptable model for any future foreign investment in agricultural properties in Australia?

BARNABY JOYCE: I think the Australian people generally want the Australian mum and dad to be the owner of the Australian asset: owner of the Australian house. And you know, that might be politically incorrect for some in some quarters, but I don't care.

It's one of my core political beliefs that the Australian citizen, the Australian mum and dad is the owner of the Australian asset, as much as we can possibly make them the owner of the Australian asset. They're the ones that I go down to Canberra for. And I want to drive around the countryside, drive around the suburbs saying that this is overwhelmingly owned by Australians.

KIM LANDERS: Gina Rinehart's Hancock Prospecting is partnering with the company, Shanghai CRED. Now, it was one participant in a previous consortium that was rejected by the Treasurer because it wasn't in the national interest. So how do we judge if Shanghai CRED's involvement in this latest bid is in the national interest?

BARNABY JOYCE: Well I don't. But the Foreign Investment Review Board will and I will give them the capacity to make that judgement. And that judgement will be on all their facts that they can ascertain and they'll have greater access to them than to me or you or to any of your listeners.

KIM LANDERS: But how do the Australian people know whether or not that it's in the national interest, because there's not a lot of transparency in this foreign investment framework?

BARNABY JOYCE: Well, that is their mandate. They have to work to make sure it's not to the - not actually in the Australian interest: whether it's not to the detriment of the Australian interest.

But my view is - and my lobbying over many years has always been - to try and make sure that we give Australian organisations the best opportunity of buying Australian assets.

KIM LANDERS: If I can move on to another topic: if Labor decides not to support the legislation for the same-sex marriage plebiscite, what will the Government do?

BARNABY JOYCE: Well, if the Labor Party want to have a change in the legislation to bring about a change in the definition of marriage, then they should vote for the plebiscite. It's as simple as that.

KIM LANDERS: But what if they don't? What if they say they won't back that legislation?

BARNABY JOYCE: Well then, what they're doing, then, is basically jettisoning any capacity for there to be a change in legislation, because quite simply they took to an election - they took to an election - that they would have a vote in the Parliament in the first 100 days. They lost the election.

Mr Rudd, prior to that, took it to an election that there would be a vote in the Parliament in the first 100 days. He lost the election.

We took it to that the Australian people would make a decision by reason of a plebiscite. Now, the result of the election was: we won. Overwhelmingly at the time, that was supported by the Australian people.

KIM LANDERS: But my question is: what will the Government do if Labor does in fact decide to thwart that bid?

BARNABY JOYCE: Well, that's - the Labor Party basically made the decision for you. They've made a decision that they don't want to change.

KIM LANDERS: So that will be the end of it: the Government will abandon any attempts to try to put that to the test?

BARNABY JOYCE: Well, this is the promise that we made to the Australian people. It's what we took to the election and if the Labor party want to…

I mean, people know my position. My position is that I agree with the current definition of marriage. But there are many who have a different position.

Everybody says that they're in the majority. Everybody says they know best. The best way to resolve this issue is to go to a plebiscite. At the end of the plebiscite, then, we can move forward.

If the Labor Party believe that they know better than the Australian people, then they'll tell you so after their caucus vote. The idea that they said, "Oh, this will cause a huge and ardent debate which…" Well, there is already a debate. There is already a debate. And no-one, I don't think anybody has been assaulted or still even really insulted.

I believe in and respect the Australian people's capacity to have that debate. And later on, we want them to have the same debate when it comes to Indigenous recognition. So let's not start dismissing the Australian people as incapable of having a polite debate, for which there will be two different views.

And I know within myself and my colleagues I've got different views to a lot of my colleagues, but we all treat each other with respect and that's the way I believe that the plebiscite should be handled.

KIM LANDERS: All right. If I can look briefly overseas:


KIM LANDERS: Is Donald Trump now unelectable as US president?

BARNABY JOYCE: Oh, he's… Well, he is certainly making life difficult for himself, isn't he?

But the thing is: this is an issue… Look, what he said is unacceptable: let's get that one straight, right from the start.

He did say it 10 years ago, so I don't know whether there's any… you know, how he handles it -

KIM LANDERS: That's not an excuse, is it?

BARNABY JOYCE: Well, if he doesn't profusely apologise for his statement, it's certainly not.

Look, I just see this whole debate in the United States turning into a really dirty, filthy concoction which belies the respect the American people deserve. They're all digging up rubbish from each other's past and I think the whole thing is pretty unsavoury.

KIM LANDERS: Well, Barnaby Joyce, thank you very much for you speaking to AM this morning.

BARNABY JOYCE: You're welcome. Thanks for that.

KIM LANDERS: And that is the Deputy Prime Minister and Agriculture Minister, Barnaby Joyce.