Foreign Investment – Less to come


I heard Bob Brown on the radio this am attacking the ASX – Singapore exchange merger. It seems clear that the Greens are opposed to many forms of international trade and investment, for a number of old-fashinoned left of left reasons. The Greens formal policy on International Trade and Investment is as follows…

Investment and Overseas Relations

  1. strengthen the regulatory framework for banks and financial institutions to ensure that consumers and investors are better protected.
  2. ensure that natural monopolies and other essential public services are under public ownership.
  3. reduce Australia’s foreign debt and foreign ownership through use of trade, financial and regulatory measures to ensure more productive use of foreign capital and strengthening of Australian manufacturing, recognising the need to support economies in developing countries.
  4. require the Foreign Investment Review Board to broaden its assessment of the national interest to explicitly include Australia’s long run energy security.
  5. revoke sections of the National Competition Policy that seek to impose market values in public, social and environmental areas of Australian life.

To be sure there may be national interest reasons to evaluate the proposed merger, but the political reaction has been way overblown. For a country in need of foreign investment the idea that a good way to reduce our foreign debt is by reducing capital inflows (presumably the regulatory measure above) is crazy. More generally the worry with the Greens is that they are really a socialist party with some environmental credentials. The sooner the major parties get environmental policies right and the Greens return to the fringe the better.

4 Responses to "Foreign Investment – Less to come"
  1. Don’t pay too much attention to the formal economic policies of minor parties – they’re written assuming they’ll never be enacted. Once parties are actually put in a position of power – e.g. the Greens in Germany – they become accountable to a wider constituency and quietly bury their old policies.

  2. When I read of Brown’s statement my first thought was it came from a man with a mindset still engaged in Opposition. I don’t share the Greens’ platform on investment and thought Brown’s comments in particular were highly indiscreet for a senior politician, but I do share his distaste for Singapore’s corporatist “democracy”.

  3. Socialist? Really?
    I suppose it depends entirely on how you define socialist and how zealously you believe in the almighty market.
    I would have thought they were taking the social democrat ground vacated by the ALP.

  4. “To be sure there may be national interest reasons to evaluate the proposed merger…”

    Too right there are.  Given the obvious regulatory issues  with this one I think that opponents like Brown have actually been pretty moderate.

    But of course Matt is right.  The current Green platform is red meat to their base.  Having to actually help govern will  change things. 

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