Wednesday, July 10, 2019

First our land, now our WATER: How China is the biggest buyer of Australia's most precious resource

This is a totally crap scare.  The Chinese are NOT picking the water up and taking it to China.  All the water concerned is used in Australia on Australian crops. The scare is being generated out of the fact that Chinese investors now own some Australian farms and some of those farms have water rights

It is in fact mainly about Cubbie Station, Australia's massive cotton grower, which is hugely beneficial to Australian trade.  The drought at one stage sent it broke and it was partly Chinese money that rescued it

Australia's water market should be more closely monitored after it emerged China is the largest foreign stakeholder, experts say.

The Federal Government in March revealed that 10.4 per cent of Australian water rights are owned by foreign individuals or companies.

Chinese investors own 732 gigalitres or 1.89 per cent of the water on the market - an amount more than Sydney Harbour which holds 500 gigalitres.

In close second, Americans own 720 gigalitres (1.86 per cent) while British buyers own 414 gigalitres or 1.1 per cent.

A string of investors from countries including Canada, France and Singapore own 0.5 per cent or less.

The figures were revealed in a new ATO register of foreign ownership which was set up to monitor who owns Australia's most precious natural resource.

But as China flexes its muscles on the global stage and seeks strategic influence across the world, experts say we must keep a close watch.

'A total of 10.4 per cent of our water being owned by foreigners is a significant amount,' Professor Quentin Grafton of the Australian National University told Daily Mail Australia. 'As such, it is important that Australians know who is using our water - it's a public resource and it's critically important to the country.

How does the water market work?

Government appointed bodies decide how much water from rivers can be given out each year. Once it is allocated, users can trade their water. There are two main types of water trade: temporary and permanent.

A temporary transfer is a transfer of water specifically for the irrigation season.

If one farmer does not have enough water for his crops, he can buy water from another.

A permanent transfer is the transfer of the water entitlement. The purchaser buys rights to a yearly allocation of water from a river and receives the allocation until they sell.

The Australian water market is not national but split into different sections within each state. The largest market is the Murray-Darling Basin in the south east.

Professor Grafton said foreign ownership of Australian water is not necessarily problematic.

'Investors are not allowed to export the water so it has to be used in Australia,' he said.

Asked if too much foreign ownership of water could be a problem, Professor Grafton said: 'We'll have to wait and see.'

But federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud said there was nothing to worry about.

'At the moment, there's a small percentage of water owned by foreign interests and much of that is by one property - Cubbie Station,' he said.

The Cubbie Station is a massive Queensland cotton farm largely owned by a Chinese textiles company.

The station's water storage dams stretch for more than 28 kilometres along the Culgoa River in the Murray-Darling basin - and the station can use up to 500,000 megalitres per year.


Surplus key to AAA credit rating: Frydenberg

Your credit rating determines how much interest you are charged.  Australia's remarkable top rating shows how confident the ratings agencies are in the policies of the Morrison government

Josh Frydenberg says Australia needs a budget surplus to maintain its AAA credit rating and to be prepared if an economic downturn hits.

The Treasurer today continued to defend the need for a budget surplus as “non-negotiable” as it was announced that more than 810,000 Australians have put in their tax returns in order to get their tax cuts.

Top credit rating agency Standard and Poor’s told The Australian Financial Review that Australia at needed to keep a surplus and address net debt to keep its rare top rating.

“We have heard today … S&P — Standard and Poor’s — who have said how important a surplus is to maintaining a AAA credit rating,” the Treasurer said in Melbourne today.

“The AAA rating is absolutely critical to Australia’s economic standing … a AAA credit rating affects the cost of borrowing. Australia is one of only 10 countries to have a AAA rating from the three major rating agencies.

“We’ll continue to ensure good economic management which has been praised by those credit rating agencies.”

Mr Frydenberg also pointed the importance of the surplus built up by John Howard and his treasurer Peter Costello in the late 1990s and early 2000s to avoid recession in 2008.

“It’s important to understand that if it wasn’t for the Howard-Costello government’s success in paying down Labor’s debt, Australia wouldn’t have had the flexibility to spend through that economic downturn when it hit in the GFC,” Mr Frydenberg said.

“What we need to do is pay down that debt, as appropriate and as we’re able to do. “We believe in that fundamental value that the next generation should not pick up the tab for the current generation.”

Labor’s treasury spokesman Jim Chalmers said today that more needed to be done to stimulate the economy. “We have stagnant wages ... the lowest economic growth since the Global Financial Crisis,” Dr Chalmers said in Brisbane. “This is a do-nothing treasurer.”

Mr Frydenberg, joined by Assistant Treasurer Michael Sukkar and Tax Commissioner Chris Jordan, said people who had filed their tax returns could receive their rebates of up to $1080 by the weekend.


Disgusted: ABC angers farmers with water management report

The usual unbalanced reporting we expect from the Left

Australia’s farming lobby says it is “disgusted” by the ABC’s Four Corners program’s report into the Murray-Darling Basin plan which it labels “reckless” and “incredibly damaging” to the sector.

Four Corners reported last night that millions of dollars in Commonwealth funds had been handed out to irrigators under a scheme designed to help the environment and raised concerns over whether checks were being made into the grants given under the scheme were delivering their promised water savings.

Last night’s program has elicited an angry response from both the National Farmers’ Federation and Federal Water Resources Minister David Littleproud.

NFF president Fiona Simson said her organisation — the peak farmer’s body — said the report failed to mention that the majority of irrigation projects were carried out by smaller farms, not big corporations, and that 7000 gigalitres had been returned to the river system under the Murray-Darling Plan.

“The management of the Murray Darling Basin is an issue of immense national importance,” Ms Simson said. “Reckless and ill-informed reporting such as that aired last night, that picks and chooses facts, has the potential to be incredibly damaging for not only farmers, but communities and the environment.

“Not to mention doing a disservice to the intelligence of Australians, who expect informed and balanced reporting from what used to be one of our nation’s flagship investigative news programs.”

The ABC spoke to experts and former Murray-Darling Basin Authority officials who said the Murray-Darling Plan was now putting irrigators before the environment.

Four Corners reported that some of the beneficiaries of the scheme were partly foreign-owned corporations that had used the money to plant thirsty cotton and nut fields along the river system.

“That program was supposed to reduce the amount of water that was going to irrigation, when it’s actually increased the opportunities for irrigation … all subsidised by taxpayers,” former Murray-Darling Basin Authority director Maryanne Slattery told Four Corners.

“I think Australian taxpayers will be really shocked to find out that that money is actually going to foreign investors as well.”

Ms Simson said today that farmers had to return water to the environment in order to access an Murray-Darling infrastructure access scheme.

A spokesman for Mr Littleproud said the government had moved against speculators in the water market and had invested more than $60m in compliance.

The Coalition is proud to invest in water efficiency projects because they return water to the river system while protecting rural jobs and communities rather than decimating them as water buybacks do,” Mr Littleproud’s spokesman said.

“It is unfortunate Four Corners did not mention this crucial fact … The office of Minister Littleproud was not contacted for the Four Corners story.”


Labor still dithering over policy and political strategy

Stuck between socialist dreams and winning elections

Richard Marles, Labor’s deputy leader, told me a fortnight ago that the party was going through a “grieving process”. It would take some time before fully comprehending the reasons behind its shock election defeat and settling on a policy and political strategy for the next few years.

Marles is right about the need for Labor to examine comprehensively why it failed to win key seats and suffered huge swings in many of its held seats, keeping many with only slim margins. But Labor cannot afford to remain in the doldrums for long. Its policy and political strategy during the past month has been a mess.

The Coalition racked up a major political win with the passage of its $158 billion tax cuts through the parliament. The government was able to negotiate the legislation through the Senate with the backing of four crossbenchers, sidelining One Nation and the Greens, and not needing Labor’s support.

Labor’s approach to the tax cuts could not have been more muddled. Leader Anthony Albanese and Treasury spokesman Jim Chalmers argued strongly against supporting stages two and three of the tax cuts. They wanted to bring the second stage forward and defer the third stage. Labor Senate leader Penny Wong criticised the crossbenchers who backed the government’s tax cuts.

But, having argued against the tax cuts for months and proposing a series of changes to the package, Labor voted for it. Labor only did so because the government had struck a deal with the crossbench to see it legislated. By that stage, it didn’t matter what Labor did because the Coalition already had the numbers in the Senate.

It gets worse. Having opposed the tax cuts but voted for them, Labor is not ruling out going to the next election with a pledge to repeal the third stage. So Labor may promise to repeal a legislated tax cut. Is it serious? The Coalition will hang this around Labor’s neck like an albatross for the next three years.

Labor has had more positions on the Coalition’s tax package than there are in the Kama Sutra. Labor remains divided on the tax cuts. Some in the party wanted to oppose them because of their regressive design while others pragmatically wanted to accept that the government won a mandate for them and move on to other issues. Those who have argued for these positions in the shadow cabinet and partyroom have conceded that the handling of this issue has been a shambles. On that, at least, they are united.

It has exposed a deep fault-line about what Labor believes in and who it represents. For now, there are serious concerns within Labor’s senior ranks about tactics and strategy. Albanese was all over the shop on the tax cuts. It took weeks for Labor to settle on a final position and it did so only minutes before the pivotal vote. For all his faults, Bill Shorten ran a smarter show than Albanese.

Nevertheless, I applaud Albanese for having the guts to expel John Setka, the rogue militant Construction Forestry Maritime Mining and Energy Union leader who has been convicted for harassing his wife, Emma Walters, in the most vile and menacing terms. Shorten would never have taken on the CFMEU.

But Albanese’s handling of Setka’s expulsion also has worried Labor MPs. Albanese made it clear Setka would be expelled, declaring himself to be judge, jury and executioner. But, at Setka’s request, Albanese delayed a meeting of Labor’s national executive to formally determine it. Setka now seeks an injunction in the Victorian Supreme Court. The saga goes on. If it is already decided, what was Albanese waiting for?

Labor has established a campaign review chaired by former South Australian premier Jay Weatherill and former federal minister Craig Emerson. There was opposition within the party to appointing Emerson, so a panel with first-rate campaign experience was also established. It comprises former party officials senator Anthony Chisholm, NSW MP John Graham and former West Australian assistant secretary Lenda Oshalem. Australian Services Union assistant secretary Linda White is also appointed.

Labor’s review of the 2016 election campaign was a farce. Individual chapters were written by a dozen or so people. It was not made available to party members. MPs had to go to the party’s national secretariat to read it under close supervision. There was no accountability against the recommendations. It was a waste of time.

Noah Carroll, Labor’s national secretary, has seen the writing on the wall and resigned. He was likely to have had support to stay. Labor’s campaign organisation was dysfunctional. Carroll was seen by many to be secretive and controlling, and failed to devise an effective strategy that inoculated the party against attacks on its policies. Yet he told senior Labor figures they had won the election.

Paul Erickson, Labor’s assistant secretary, is the frontrunner to succeed Carroll. (Albanese has told colleagues he would prefer former assistant secretary Nick Martin.) Erickson is a hard Left factional warrior who idolises British Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. Two years ago, he argued that Corbyn was “within the mainstream of postwar social democracy” and his radical agenda could be “just as effective here”. British Labour is rotting from the head down. It is attracting 18 per cent of the vote, the lowest in polling history. Corbyn is un­electable. If Australian Labor took Erickson’s advice and shifted further to the left using Corbyn as a role model, the party would confirm it has learned nothing since the election and would consign itself to more years in the political wilderness.


 Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.).    For a daily critique of Leftist activities,  see DISSECTING LEFTISM.  To keep up with attacks on free speech see Tongue Tied. Also, don't forget your daily roundup  of pro-environment but anti-Greenie  news and commentary at GREENIE WATCH .  Email me  here

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