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Australian agricultural land sales must be monitored

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3 September 2012


AUSTRALIA needs a national strategy on agricultural land and a response to this century’s global challenge of food security, Independent Lyne MP Rob Oakeshott said today.

His comments follow government approval last week of the sale of the nation’s largest cotton farm, Cubbie Station, to an overseas consortium; a move endorsed by the Liberal Party this week.

Mr Oakeshott said Australia’s economy was built on international money.

“I am less concerned about short-term transactions of international investors; nor do I think the focus should be lost on the 8 to 10 per cent of Australian agriculture owned by overseas interests,” he said.

“What does worry and concern me greatly is that Australia is still not recognising the enormous mid- to long-term opportunity that our food producing landscape gives us. We need a strategic approach or the opportunity to make the most of the next economic boom will be lost.

“We simply can’t afford to allow international money to buy Australia’s food and fibre assets for reasons other than a commercial return, otherwise we are giving the economic opportunities of feeding the globe to someone else.

“Australia is a big country, and we need international dollars to help develop domestic employment, investment and economic growth. But Canberra needs to recognise the enormous opportunity that presents itself with international food security likely to be one of the biggest global issues over the next 50 years.

“Without a national strategy, the sale of agricultural assets such as Cubbie represents a significant long-term threat rather than an immediate threat. Each sale ultimately adds up to a lost opportunity for the nation,” Mr Oakeshott said.

“The food, soil and water cabinet committee process is reaching its final stages, and the issue of how we maximise the use of our landscape is being considered in depth. I look forward to a response from the government by the end of the year.

“Along with a national food strategy, some important decisions will be made in the next six months that will either set Australia up for the opportunity that natural resource management and agriculture will present over the next 50 years, or we’ll fail and simply demonstrate that Canberra just doesn’t get it,” Mr Oakeshott said.

“Obviously I’m fighting for the former, not the latter.”

ENDS Media contact : Sharon Fuller - 0429 787320