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
- strengthen the regulatory framework for banks and financial institutions to ensure that consumers and investors are better protected.
- ensure that natural monopolies and other essential public services are under public ownership.
- 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.
- require the Foreign Investment Review Board to broaden its assessment of the national interest to explicitly include Australia’s long run energy security.
- 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.