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Monday, 23 November 2015
Page: 8698

Senator WONG (South AustraliaLeader of the Opposition in the Senate) (21:00): I know the crossbenchers' views on this are probably clear. I would like to remind the government of what the Australian Food and Grocery Council said, as these are amendments that go to the agribusiness threshold. The council warned that the government's amendments would have 'a chilling effect on foreign investment'. They said the government's barriers to investment 'would discourage investment', are 'not based on a clear public policy objective', are 'inconsistent with the government's efforts to attract foreign investment and undermine efforts to build stronger economic relationships through trade agreements'. The council also said that the chilling effect on foreign investment 'is particularly relevant to high-growth, often mid-tier food manufacturers seeking access to foreign investment to fund rapid expansion, including to meet export growth potential'.

These are salient propositions that the government would do well to listen to. I would again make this point: the government has taken the approach whereby we have the extraordinary and bizarre position where the threshold for foreign investment in sectors like uranium extraction and defence industries is five times higher than the threshold for investments in food manufacturing. Labor's proposition is a sensible proposition: to treat agribusiness the same as other non-sensitive sectors of the economy rather than to single it out for more restrictive investment barriers.