The Crest of the Commonwealth of Australia Treasury Portfolio Ministers
Picture of Wayne Swan

Wayne Swan

Deputy Prime Minister and Treasurer

3 December 2007 - 27 June 2013

4 July 2008

Doorstop Interview

Melbourne

4 July 2008

SUBJECT: Foreign Investment

JOURNALIST:

Can I ask about (inaudible)?

TREASURER:

(inaudible) There’s nothing exceptional about the principles I’ve outlined today. I’ve made it very clear that we will look very closely at those situations where the buyers of our resources seek to control the resources companies. That’s something that has always occurred in this country. It is nothing exceptional, nothing particularly new about any of that at all.

JOURNALIST:

Treasurer, why aren’t transfer pricing rules enough to protect Australia’s interest?

TREASURER:

Because they’re not enough and that’s why you have the guidelines that I published in [February]. They are principles that we apply to proposals from foreign governments or their entities. They are broad ranging. But basically they go to this very core fact: Is the proposal market based and is it in our national interest? So, the question here is, is it in our national interest for a buyer of our resources to control our resource-producing companies? That’s the decision that I have to make. It’s a decision that previous governments have made and there’s nothing exceptional about that at all. We will apply our national interest rules as it’s always been applied in the national interest.

JOURNALIST:

Do you expect it to damage relationships with potential Chinese investors?

TREASURER:

No, I don’t because we welcome Chinese investment in this country. It’s occurring all of the time. It’s happening as we speak. And this applies irrespective of the source of investment. We’ve made that very clear as well.

JOURNALIST:

Did you make some nuance to the Chinese when you were over there three weeks ago, and what was their response?

TREASURER:

Well, there’s nothing nuanced as you put it. These are our guidelines, they were published in February. They are applied in the national interest. Chinese investment in this country is very welcome. We are a country that has always welcomed foreign investment. We have a very open and liberal regime, but we will certainly be examining very carefully any proposal from any source anywhere in the world where a buyer will seek to buy a producer. There’s nothing exceptional about that at all.

JOURNALIST:

Why did you feel the need to spell that out today? You haven’t done that in the past.

TREASURER:

Well, I made a major speech on foreign investment today. As Treasurer of this Commonwealth I have many responsibilities. We are deeply involved in the reform of Federal/State relations, I was at COAG yesterday. We’re engaged in fundamental tax reform, and I’ve been spending a lot of time on that. We’ve brought down a Budget, I spent a lot of time on that. And I’ve spent a lot of time on studying and looking very closely at the approach that we take to foreign investment – I take that very seriously. Today was a very good opportunity to talk about the Government’s approach in general. I welcome the opportunity to do it. I enjoyed being here with all of those people in the room, making these points, because one thing about being Treasurer of Australia that I think about all the time is what do I do to enhance our national interests and what do I do to make our economy more prosperous in the long term so we can leave something better for our children and our grandchildren. Thanks.