Tasmanian Greens Senator Peter Whish-Wilson commented on the defeat in the senate today of a motion calling on the Treasurer to put additional conditions on the approval of the sale of VDL diary to Moon Lake.
“Our foreign investment laws aren’t worth the paper they are written on if the government can’t monitor, audit or enforce undertakings made by foreign purchases of agricultural land or iconic businesses.
“If any investor fails to meet undertakings given at purchase and these undertakings won’t be enforced by our government, our laws are failing the national interest.
“It is astounding that both the government and Labor voted against a motion that was simply about making Moon Lake come good on the promises they made when they bought Van Diemen’s Land (VDL) diary.
“This should have been a no brainer.
“The Greens motion asked the Treasurer to place additional conditions on the approval to oblige Moon Lake to come good on the promised $100 million of additional investment.
“Both the federal and state government made a great deal of this promise when the sale of VDL to Moon Lake was approved.
“Our legal advice is that it is possible for the Treasurer to enforce undertakings by changing the conditions of approval, especially given that Moon Lake agreed to undertakings at the time of purchase, and so would not be disadvantaged by being required to following through with them.
“Australians want to have faith in their foreign investment laws. They want to know any purchases of Australian land or iconic businesses by foreign interests are truly are in the national interest, and in the interests of local communities and the environment.
“Recent media reports that Moon Lake Investments has not met its undertakings to the Treasurer and ultimately the Tasmanian community, calls into question the approval of the VDL being in the ‘national interest’, and this further undermines confidence in the foreign investment approval system.
“Foreign investment is important to Australia. It is a significant matter of public interest. Fixing the system to give both businesses and local communities certainty would reduce sovereign risk. There is no future in systemic failures that undermine both public and business confidence in our foreign investment review board processes.
“Tasmanians, especially the north west community, deserve a set of laws and a government that has their interests at heart. Problems with the system can be easily resolved and I call on all political parties, including Labor and Liberal, to do their job and help the Greens fix a broken system.”