The Crest of the Commonwealth of Australia Treasury Portfolio Ministers
Picture of David Bradbury

David Bradbury

Assistant Treasurer, Minister Assisting for Financial Services & Superannuation and Minister for Competition Policy & Consumer Affairs

5 March 2012 - 18 September 2013

Media Release of 08/04/2013

NO.044

Barnaby challenges Abbott on foreign investment again

Barnaby Joyce has been dangerously 'freelancing' on the Coalition's foreign investment policy yet again.

Mr Joyce's comments this morning undermine investor confidence and damage our national interest.

On ABC radio this morning, Mr Joyce criticised the Foreign Investment Review Board and the national interest test.

HOST: Do you think the FIRB needs to be tougher?

JOYCE: Yes I do. I think the threshold test at which things are referred to it is wrong and I think that we have to clearly understand where Australia's national interests lie. I do think there are serious questions about the FIRB and that's why the Coalition are currently looking into that question.

(ABC Newsradio – 8 April 2013)

This is at complete odds with Tony Abbott, who said in August last year:

…the Foreign Investment Review Board process has served Australia well and the people who have served on the Foreign Investment Review Board over the years have done a good job.

(Press conference – 3 August 2012)

Mr Joyce also repeated his claim that state-owned enterprises are not subjected to adequate scrutiny and that the FIRB should be rejecting more foreign investment applications.

Mr Abbott, however, has explicitly ruled out any changes to the screening of state-owned enterprises and the national interest test against which applications are assessed:

What I'm not flagging any change to is the fact that all foreign investment by state-owned enterprises or sovereign funds should attract Foreign Investment Review Board scrutiny, but that the national interest test should remain as it is now. I am not proposing that test to be further specified.

(Press conference – 3 August 2012)

Mr Joyce, a man who wants to be Tony Abbott's Deputy Prime Minister in government, has long been on a campaign to roll down the shutters on foreign investment and Mr Abbott must come out immediately and confirm whether this is new Coalition policy.

The Gillard Government supports the strong foreign investment screening regime that has protected the national interest for almost four decades.

The Government applies a rigorous national interest test to all foreign investment applications and we screen every dollar of direct investment from foreign governments.

We have also increased transparency of foreign investment in agriculture through an ABS survey and we have announced we will introduce a register of foreign ownership of agricultural land.

Foreign investment has been an area of bipartisan support because of its enormous economic benefits. Tony Abbott should stop this dishonest scare campaign and pull Barnaby Joyce into line once and for all.

8 April 2013