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Wednesday, 10 November 1971
Page: 3293

Mr KIRWAN (Forrest) - Recently the honourable member for Capricornia (Dr Everingham) drew attention to the sale of land in the Simpson Desert area to overseas interests at 20c an acre. More recently honourable members have become aware of attempts being made by Sir William Gunn to sell further Australian real estate to American interests. In the latter case Australians were to have been precluded from purchase and were informed of their right to invest only after much public criticism. This evening I wish to draw to the attention of the House a promotional pamphlet being circulated in the United States of America through Honolulu. The sheet is distributed by a corporation which euphemistically calls itself the Australian Land Corporation. It operates from regional offices at 1150 South King Street, Honolulu, Hawaii 96814. On the obverse side of the sheet is printed in bold print the words 'Australia Land of Golden Opportunity'. The recipient on opening the sheet is presented with the following message, and I will read it in detail. It says:

You know what happened to Hawaii land values. . . Experts are predicting the same great potential for Australian

It shows a picture of a jet plane leaving Honolulu and heading directly for Western Australia. It continues:

Investment opportunities are now fantastic! Just 6 hours from Hawaii by, new supersonic jet.

Follow the leader! Australian land is priced today . at what Hawaii land cost just a few years ago!

Then the following points are made:

After long careful research, over 1,500 large United States corporations - including General Motors, R.C.A., Kaiser Steel, Shell Oil, Chase Manhattan Bank, Remington-Rand, King Ranch of Texas, Mobiloil - have already invested almost two billion dollars in Australia.

Many successful Americans - including Art Linkletter, television personality; Dillingham Corp. of Australia Pty Ltd; David Rockefeller, president of Chase Manhattan Bank; Clare Booth Luce, actress and former US Ambassador to Italy; Anne Baxter, motion picture star . . . and many, many others - have been thoughtfully, investing in Australian land.

Then this pamphlet emphasises these words:

They know where top profit potentials are!

Now, for the first time, the tremendous profit potentials of Australian land are being offered to the American public at low investment costs . . . you, too, can buy big, rich Australian acreage - just three miles from beautiful sandy ocean beaches, near a major seaport.

You can buy good Australian land for low down and low monthly payments.

Australian Land Corporation.

Over fifty years of professional real estate experience.

Member of Better Business Bureau and Chamber of Commerce.

The address is then given. It has the effrontery to print the following:

Both Hawaii and Western Australia are seaboard states. Both enjoy similar sunny climate. Both are developing at record rates! Australians are our kind of people - a nation on the moye! Many, Australians refer to their fast-growing country as the '51st State' of our Union!

Sir, Ibelieve that statement is insulting to the Australian people and that it is not true. I believe they hold the fear that if this Government continues in office it will eventually occur through the sale of all our land and all our resources. I believe that no Australian thinks of our country as being the 51st state of the American Union. This is a further indication of the need for this Government to take heed of the trends that are developing in this country, to recognise that we are selling our country at incredibly low rates, that we are losing control of our resources and even of our agricultural and city lands. To ' illustrate this point, I refer honourable members to the publication titled 'Annual Bulletin of Overseas Investment 1969-70', which was compiled by the Commonwealth Bureau of Census and Statistics in Canberra. We find that in 1960-61, overseas interests invested $lm in Australian primary industry, and that in 1969-70 that figure had increased 66 times to S66m. We also find that total overseas investment in companies in Australia increased from $375m in 1960-61 to $740m in 1969-70.

In January 1968 there was presented in Canada a report by the Watkins Commission which had been set up by the Canadian Government to investigate all aspects of foreign investment in that country, its effect upon the country and what policies needed to be implemented in order to meet the effects of overseas investment upon Canada's growth and Canada's policies. There is not sufficient time for me to refer to more than a short passage in the concluding section of the report. The main concern felt by the Commission is reflected in this section. Foreign ownership of resources leads to the situation in which the government loses control of a wide area of policy making and industries are owned by foreign interests and have their policies directed by company heads who have no interest in the advancement of the country in which the industries are established; they are interested only in the wider field of their own companies. The concluding section of this report, under the heading 'A New National Policy', states:

The old National Policy served Canada in its day. as an instrument of nation-building and a means of facilitating economic growth. The challenges have changed and a new National Policy is required.

That is equally true in Australia. It continues:

The nation has been built, but its sovereignty must be protected and its independence maintained. A diversified economy has been created, but its efficiency must be improved and its capacity for autonomous growth increased.

This is as true for Australia as it is for Canada. The report continues:

It is this spirit which informs the present proposals. While each individual proposal deserves careful consideration, taken together, these proposals are designed as a programme which is realistic and attainable both from an economic and political viewpoint. Increased economic interdependence among nations is recognised, but also that a stronger national economy is needed to function effectively in a global setting. The movement within Canada toward stronger provincial authority, is also recognised, but this does not alter the fact that foreign ownership is a national issue that goes beyond regional concerns. The growing mutual dependence of nations today suggests finally that Canada's foreign policy and global responsibilities can be made more effective by sustaining a healthy national independence.

I commend to honourable members this report titled 'Foreign Ownership and the Structure of Canadian Industry - Report of the Task Force on the Structure of Canadian Industry', lt is in the Parliamentary Library. As I said, the report was brought down in 1968 by a commission which was set up to consider all the ramifications of foreign ownership in Canada. I believe that a similar situation has arisen in Australia, and I think that we ought to learn from the experience of Canada and not wait until foreign investment reaches in Australia the proportions that it did in Canada, which necessitated the setting up of this Commission. I believe that this is one area in which the ground work has been done, and I think that we ought to benefit from it.

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