NORTHERN region politicians have weighed in on the foreign investment debate surrounding the planned sale of Australia’s largest cotton farm.
The sale of Cubbie Station in Queensland to a Chinese-led consortium was approved by Treasurer Wayne Swan earlier this month.
Independent New England MP Tony Windsor told The Leader he wanted more information on the taxation obligations of foreign investors.
He said there needed to be greater transparency surrounding the management structures of these companies, and whether they were on the same playing field as Australian companies when it came to taxation.
Mr Windsor planned to meet with Senator Bill Heffernan, who raised the same issues.
He also said there needed to be a register of land sales to foreign interests, which he said parliament was working to establish.
Mr Windsor said he wasn’t against foreign investment, but it was important it was transparent.
Nationals MP Mark Coulton said foreign investment underpinn-
ed Australian agriculture, but the sale of such a significant property – it produced about 10 per cent of Australia’s cotton crop and had a large water storage capacity – should have undergone greater scrutiny before it was approved.
Mr Coulton said he had received a “strong response” from constituents who were concerned about the sale.
NSW Liberal MLC Scot MacDonald said while the sale was mainly a federal issue, it directly impacted on the state.
He said NSW welcomed foreign investment because it did not have the domestic savings and capital to develop industry, including agriculture.
“Regional NSW would be a heavy loser if unworkable, excessive, unnecessary rules put a brake on foreign investment,” Mr MacDonald said.
He felt the Foreign Investment Review Board protocols were appropriate and worked.
Inverell-based Nationals’ Senator John Williams told the ABC a lot of people he spoke to in rural areas were furious over the “willy-nilly selling off of our farmland to overseas interests”.