Sunday, September 02, 2012

Asians are prepared to risk their money to keep an ailing Australian farm going and people are "Concerned"?

As it has been a major export earner for Australia the rescuers should be welcomed with open arms.  As it is the conditions on the purchase are onerous

Concerns have been raised over the Government's approval of a foreign bid for Australia's largest cotton farm, with Nationals senator Barnaby Joyce labelling it "a disgrace".

Treasurer Wayne Swan has approved a consortium made up of Chinese and Japanese investors to make a bid for Cubbie Station, near Dirranbandi in southern Queensland.

The station was placed in administration three years ago with debts of more than $300 million.

Mr Swan said in a statement on Friday that the consortium, textile manufacturer Shandong Ruyi, had given undertakings on employment, management and water use.

But critics of the decision say Australia's national interests are at stake.

Dale Miller, a policy officer at rural lobby group Agforce, says the Federal Government must be careful when approving foreign purchases of agricultural assets.

"Agforce Queensland is not opposed to commercially motivated foreign investment, so let's make that clear," he said.

"Our main concerns are that that foreign investment doesn't compromise market competition or pricing for Australian commodity products.

"So as long as that foreign investment is effectively monitored and regulated, we do see some benefit in that capital flowing into our enterprises."

Mr Miller says the Government needs to be aware of Australia's national interests.

"One of the things Agforce has been calling for is the establishment of a national register to make sure that we've got the information that we need to effectively monitor foreign investment and to be able to make decisions about where that investment might be compromising our national interests," he said.

Senator Joyce says Cubbie Station is vital to Australian agriculture, and described the decision as "a disgrace". [Does he think they are going to pick it up and take it back to China?]

"If the ownership of Australia's biggest water licence, if the ownership in commercial terms of one of Australia's biggest properties - the biggest farm in the Murray-Darling Basin, a property responsible for in excess of 10 per cent of our nation's cotton crop - is not in our national interest, then the national interest is a farce, there is no national interest in agriculture," he said.

However, Mr Swan says a successful sale would be in the national interest.  "In the event the consortium is successful in acquiring Cubbie Group, it will report to the Foreign Investment Review Board every 12 months on its progress on meeting its undertakings," he said.

"The Government welcomes foreign investment in Australia and continues to ensure that investments are consistent with Australia's national interest."

Mr Swan says the consortium would initially have an 80 per cent stake which would reduce over time.

Lempiere, an Australian-owned wool company, will initially own the other 20 per cent of the company.

"Critically, Ruyi has undertaken to sell down its interest to no more than 51 per cent within three years," Mr Swan said.


Muslim killer shows his contempt for civilized norms

The New South Wales Government is seeking to appeal against the sentence for the killer of truck driver Bob Knight.

Attorney-General Greg Smith has called for advice from the Director of Public Prosecutions on the possibility of appealing against the sentence.

On Thursday, Mahmoud Mariam, who was convicted of killing Mr Knight, laughed after he was sentenced to at least five years and nine months in jail.

Mr Knight was shot dead while he was in his truck waiting at traffic lights at Milperra in Sydney's south-west in 2009.

He was hit by a stray bullet fired by Mariam in a dispute with another family in a nearby restaurant carpark.

Premier Barry O'Farrell slammed the penalty, which he said was "clearly inadequate".

"It's the sort of decision that lowers community confidence in the judiciary," he said.

"It's one that I've asked the Attorney-General to provide a report to me as to what, if anything, can be done to ensure that what should be a tougher penalty is imposed."

In sentencing, Justice Megan Latham said the 28-year-old Mariam wore his contempt for the law like a badge of honour.

"The offender was a mature adult who consciously and arrogantly engaged in a mindless display of violence in the presence of much younger men," she said.

"The offender himself has at no stage expressed the slightest remorse for the death of Mr Knight."

Mr Smith is seeking advice on the possibility of appealing against Mariam's sentence and for two juveniles convicted of affray over the incident.


"Radio Australia" upgraded

It has for a long time been an important source of relatively unbiased news and information for Asians under tyrannical governments

Australia's Foreign Minister Bob Carr has confirmed an agreement has been reached for the ongoing funding of a new-look Australia Network Service, combining television, radio and digital media.

In a statement, Senator Carr said the deal for an 'Integrated Multiplatform International Media Service' would allow the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) to combine the existing Australia Network television operation with Radio Australia’s services, and the ABC's news online and digital operations.

"It will ensure delivery of a comprehensive service to diverse regional audiences using the media platforms of their choice, effectively extending Australia's public diplomacy reach,” Senator Carr said.

He explained that under the agreement the Australia Network service would become a permanent feature of the ABC "bringing greater certainty for the future, (and) allowing the ABC to make more flexible and integrated broadcasting decisions for Australia's international target audiences."

The Government and the ABC will now mutually review the terms for renewal.

Lynley Marshall, CEO of ABC International, said the agreement "should enable the ABC to operate more effectively by converging Radio Australia and Australia Network resources."

"The service description now also provides greater flexibility to shape the services for the future. This is obviously necessary given the changing nature of audience trends, technology and service delivery," she added.


Economist sounds warning over spending promises

Gillard is dreaming impossible dreams

One of the country's leading economic forecasters says both major political parties have spent too much and promised too much over the past decade.

Deloitte Access Economics forecaster Chris Richardson has told Lateline the Government will struggle to pay for its $4 billion dental program, disability insurance scheme, school funding reform, new submarines and offshore asylum seeker processing, and still get the budget to surplus.

And he says the Opposition's plans to scrap the carbon and mining taxes will also leave it extremely short.

"I don’t think the budget’s in shape to deliver those sorts of things. Now, it doesn’t mean that those individual ideas, you know there are some good ideas in there," he said.

"But, you look at what the Government is promising, or at least it would like to do, you look at an Opposition which is aiming to get rid of some taxes, both sides are still making promises, still assuming that China, which forgave the tax cuts and big spending increases over the last decade, will continue to do that.

"If the budget were coming down tomorrow, it would be in deficit. A bunch of things have gone wrong in recent times. You know, share markets down, housing prices down," he added.

"But, the bit of the world economy that is problematic for the budget is what’s happening in China and how that’s led to falls in iron ore and coal prices.  "Those things hurt the budget more than anything else."

Mr Richardson says the Government could delay some of its spending if it wants to meet its commitment to return to surplus next year.

"What that means to me is that there’s savings to be made. Now, that’s not impossible, and the Government has already said it will look for savings in and around the new dental scheme, but it may be a reasonably big bill," he observed.

"Most of the things that have happened since the budget are hurting the bottom line."


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