Flogging off Oz a hot poll issue
CONCERNS about the sale of Australian land to overseas interests is the number one issue being raised by local voters with National Party candidate for the Federal seat of Richmond Matthew Fraser.
Mr Fraser, a Tweed businessman, said it was a topic that was coming up frequently unprompted while door knocking voters even before the sale of the world’s largest cattle station, Kidman & Co, hit the headlines.
The iconic Kidman & Co pastoral leases comprise the largest private landholding in Australia, 101,000 square kilometres, or almost 2 per cent of the continent, including 16 properties across three states, a stud farm and 185,000 grass-fed cattle.
Earlier this month Kidman's preferred bidder, Chinese conglomerate Shanghai Pengxin Group, withdrew its bid days after Treasurer Scott Morrison blocked the sale for a second time stating it was not in the national interest.
Mr Fraser said the fears of that landholding falling into overseas hands had only exacerbated the issue.
“The number one big thing that comes up unprompted is the sale of Australian land,” he said.
Greens candidate Dawn Walker recently told the Tweed Daily News that the threat of coal seam gas was still being raised by voters despite the State Government’s buy-out of Metgasco’s licence.
Mr Fraser agreed CSG was still an issue but only in Ballina and Byron Shires.
He said the people who raised it tended not to be aware that the NSW Coalition Government had bought out the Metgasco license.
“Labor and Greens are not telling that story,” Mr Fraser said.
“There will be no CSG under my watch.”
But Labor incumbent Justine Elliot said she was getting different feedback from both Mr Fraser and Ms Walker.
Mrs Elliot said the key issues among voters she met were overwhelmingly health care, education and jobs.
She said people were very concerned about Federal Government cuts to schools, health, family payments, aged pensions and $100,000 higher education degrees.
She said response to the recent Federal Budget had been fierce with voters angry about the tax cuts to “millionaires” but no relief for people earning under $80,000.
She said CSG was being raised occasionally as part of general environmental concerns including climate change, but overall it was way down the list of pressing concerns.
Foreign investment party policy:
Coalition Government - in December last year the Federal Government lowered the Foreign Investment Review Board screening threshold from $252 million to $15m for agricultural land and $55m for agribusiness.
Labor - supports a balance between attracting investment and protecting the national interest.
The Greens - supported Federal Government legislation to increase scrutiny of foreign investment in farms and agribusinesses. The Greens also secured a commitment, written into the legislation, that the government will establish a register of foreign-owned water entitlements. The party believes we need to keep control of our prime agricultural land and water resources to maximise our own resilience and provide exports to the overseas market.