Recently I visited Colac to discuss with Colac dairy farmers their concern at the prospect of foreign large scale purchases of dairy farms in South-West Victoria. The point they made to me was that if a foreign company buys Victorian farmland, brings in foreign workers to produce the milk, exports the product to foreign consumers, and the profits also go offshore, how do Victorian communities benefit? What kind of future does this provide for our young people?
I have also raised in the Parliament the use of holding companies to disguise the real levels of foreign ownership. Until a proper Register is put into place, I doubt that we will know the real levels of foreign ownership of Australian land.
I am not opposed to foreign investment. But there is a world of difference between investment, where the investor shares the risks and rewards with local businesses and employees, and ownership, where Australia loses control over its own destiny. We need real transparency about foreign ownership of Australian land, and we need it sooner rather than later.