Tag Archives: sovereign risk

Defining Rulers

India has several thousand years of history under various ruling regimes, and today is the largest democracy. So not unexpectedly they have identified four kinds of rulers that would be in power any one time in a country’s history. These definitions apply whether the regime is democratic, republic, monarchy, communism or dictatorship.

Leaders: provide vision and cohesion, engage people to realise and share the vision; Intellectuals: have ideas, but unable to translate these and gain wide support; Warriors: Defend what Leaders or Intellectuals have created or overthrow until new rulers energy; Proletariat (the Masses): Mob rule and anarchy. The cycle of such rule can over centuries. The masses do not rule for long.

Under our current system of government small parties are entitled to run in an election without evidence that they have the capacity to represent their members let alone the wider constituency. When small Parties or individuals are in such numbers that they can override the majority in our preferential system, governing for all is not workable. We have seen this happen over the past three years especially and may yet see it again in our House of Review.

It could be a lesson to the major Parties to listen to the concerns of our citizens more and to be seen to be acting accordingly.

It is a lesson to us as citizens, that the rights we enjoy were hard won and it is not what Australia can do for us but what we can do for Australia.

Stop the Sale of Graincorp – it is not in our national interest – please consider the sale of these assets continue to threaten our food security. How can we pay off our national debt if we continue to sell our wealth creating assets?

If you do nothing else this week send two emails before the election to these two politicians.


[email protected]
[email protected]

Spread the word for your friends to do the same. Here are the reasons why.
Whoever is the treasurer next week will have the final say on the sale of this public company to the US owned ADM. The sale has already been approved by the FIRB (all public servants) and the ACCC. Together these organisations have a history of never saying no to foreign takeovers. Every major food commodity except rice is now majority controlled beyond the farm gate by foreign interests.
It is not foreign investment when they buy our assets and our cash flow. It is takeover.
When foreign companies or countries own the assets beyond the farm gate is makes our farmers price takers not price makers. Foreign owned companies do not pay the same taxes as Australian owned businesses – only 10% withholding tax on their declared profits, and borrow off shore at low interest rates which then adds to our national debt.
We do not count the cost of loss to Australian if these assets are owned by private interests or a public company which does not trade here.
Already 20% of our grain exports are owned by Cargill a private US family company that also controls many of our beef exports and the processing infrastructure. Once Australian grain was sold as the best in the world, now it is bundled in so that the foreign owners’ countries give priority to their own.
25% of Graincorp shareholders have said no. ADM needs 51% to buy the company.
If they want to invest then they can buy up to 49% of the shares and keep the company here so Australians have the chance to invest in our own country and companies.
If Australia is to take advantage of the Asian Century then we urgently need to secure the benefits all Australians will derive.

Selling Our Land & Wealth Creating Assets to Foreign Interests & Countries

If anyone can put up a rational case for what is happening in this country and who is really making the decisions, then we would welcome the discussion.

The sale of our wealth creating assets, our land and our businesses continues to be condoned unabated by our decision makers in Canberra. The countries buying our assets do not reciprocate the opportunities even to their own citizens. No one seems prepared to count the long term cost to Australia’s long term security and financial viability when you combine the lenient tax rules for foreign interest to buy our assets and cash flow, and the Australians acting as real estate agents with companies set up to siphon profits off shore.

Again we see a Chinese company not only purchase the farm, it has bought the port facilities that were built using Australian taxpayers money. The Chinese company has been allowed to buy assets giving it a vertically integrated operation from paddock to plate to sell to itself. While over the past few decades we have allowed the control of every major food commodity except rice to be controlled beyond the farm gate by foreign companies. Several of which are privately owned and dominate in more than one commodity sector.

How does it benefit Australia when they own the land, the supply chain and are exporting to themselves?

How does it benefit Australia when Australian governments give foreign interests money to invest here – $450M from WA Government and $174M from the Federal Government to encourage the Chinese to buy the lease for Stage 2 of the Ord – a $600m asset from which they will benefit. Fifty years is a long time in a country’s history.

It has taken Australian over 200 years to build these assets, it will take less than two decades to dismantle our control of these.

In the meantime our farmers are under great financial pressure and our government wants to “lend” them money at variable market interest rates to help them survive the drought.  Is this representing our short and long term interests?

 

Australian Broadcasting Corporation http://www.abc.net.au/7.30/content/2013/s3809433.htm

Broadcast: 23/07/2013

Reporter: Bronwyn Herbert

China’s biggest state-owned agricultural conglomerate has bought farmland and port facilities in Western Australia and the move has sharply divided responses.

Transcript

LEIGH SALES, PRESENTER: It’s an emotive issue across rural Australia. Cashed up foreigners buying land and speeding the demise of the family farm.

In the latest example China’s biggest State owned agricultural conglomerate has for the first time invested in the Australian market, buying up vast tracks of farmland in Western Australia as well as port facilities to ship its grain out of the country.

There’s no doubt foreign capital helps boost economic growth but it’s also breeding resentment, as Bronwyn Herbert reports.

WILL CROZIER, VICSTOCK GLOBAL: Yeah, g’day, mate, it’s Will. Good, really good, thanks. Look, just want to go over that asset register for our eastern property.

BRONWYN HERBERT, REPORTER: Will Crozier has a lot on his mind. The former farmer from Geelong is now an international deal maker in agriculture.

WILL CROZIER: Yeah, fantastic. Ten mills, overnight.

BRONWYN HERBERT: And the purchase of this farm four hours south of Perth is one of the biggest he’s negotiated. It’s part of a $150 million investment by China’s largest agricultural company.

WILL CROZIER: The vision is massive. The development is massive so far and it’s only a start.

BRONWYN HERBERT: Beidahuang lays claim to being the world’s biggest farming operation. It already grows more than 70 million tonnes of grain globally, has a permanent work force of 300,000 people and operates in more than 30 countries. But the purchase of more than 40,000 hectares of farmland in WA’s south is the company’s first foray into Australian agriculture and this is its first crop.

WILL CROZIER: Beidahuang farm all over the world. They’re the biggest farming operation in the world. I think it’s 70 million tonnes of grain annually that they crop. This is the first time that we’ve, that they’ve been introduced to Australia, Australian techniques, Australian technology and Australian climate.

BRONWYN HERBERT: Beidahuang through its new Australian subsidiary Heilongjiang Agriculture, hasn’t just bought the farm. It’s also purchased port facilities at nearby Albany to vertically integrate its operations. This creates its own paddock to plate supply chain from WA to northern China.

MARY NENKE, WEST AUSTRALIAN FARMER: They’re going to be shipping the grain out of Albany. Are they going to be bringing in empty ships or are they going to be filling them with their own machinery, their own fertiliser, their own chemical?

BRONWYN HERBERT: Mary Nenke and her family are fourth generation wheat farmers in southern WA who have also diversified into yabby farming.

MARY NENKE: These are business people, they’re not there for our good, they’re there for their good. In our patch there are people paying up to 17 per cent interest. These people will be, you know, it will be Chinese money, what interest rates will they be paying? When you can’t compete in your own country what next?

WILL CROZIER: There’s nothing to be afraid about. This is simply a new stream of capital coming in to rural Australia.

BRONWYN HERBERT: The Beidahuang deal like the Ord River expansion signed last year with a private Chinese firm are exactly what the WA Premier Colin Barnett and his ministry are promoting.

KEN BASTON, WA AGRICULTURE MINISTER: I believe that that investment, you know, employs people, employs jobs, it has regional development because they’re obviously they’re not city centric, they’re out in the country so regional areas thrive with that capital investment there. And of course what we’re actually doing is we’re supplying the food chain of the world.

BRONWYN HERBERT: Bill Heffernan leads the Senate rural and regional affairs committee which has been investigating whether purchases like these are in the national interest.

BILL HEFFERNAN, LIBERAL SENATOR: It would be a great pity if Australia’s farmers ended up as tenants and tenant farmers and unlike the prospect of capital growth to hand on to the family, only have the job to hand on and I guess there’s a warning there.

BRONWYN HERBERT: At last count around 11 per cent of the nation’s farmland was in foreign hands. But Bill Heffernan says no one really knows what the exact figure is, which is why it’s crucial a foreign land registry is set up.

BILL HEFFERNAN: We need to do that and then we need to model that out for 20 or 30 years given the present law and the present practices and then say to ourselves “is that where we want to be in 20 or 30 years as a nation?” Because it’s my view that under the present arrangements we are redefining sovereignty.

MARY NENKE: The thing is they’re saying it’s good for us. Would it be good if all our suburbs of the city were owned by China and then we were renting back the houses from China? That’s exactly what it is. They’re suggesting, and banks are suggesting this, that it would be better for farmers to sell their land and then rent it back.

BRONWYN HERBERT: For Will Crozier, it’s the way of the future.

WILL CROZIER: Looking at substantial gains, we’re looking at substantial markets coming in here. It’s a great thing for Australia. I’m very, very proud to be a part of it.

LEIGH SALES: Bronwyn Herbert reporting.

What You Can Do as a Concerned Australian!

We urge concerned Australians to talk to those proposing to represent us in the next Government. Ask them:

  1. what priority they give Australia’s long term interest when we have an open door policy to imports which do not meet our standards;
  2.  why do we have a “for sale” sign on our wealth creating assets so foreign countries and companies can buy our land and our businesses;
  3. why our government fund foreign purchases – over $600m to China to lease the Ord Stage Two;
  4. why they allow foreign interests to pay less company tax from the profits they declare (10% withholding tax), after consultancy fees and interest repayment are sent off shore;
  5. why they do not apply the laws we have in place to ensure products do not come here or are removed from sale that do not meet our standards;
  6. why government procurement tends to favour foreign owned business operating here who then do not necessarily source from our businesses and often replace inferior quality;
  7. why products are dumped here and nothing is done;
  8. when will they apply labelling laws which show were products are grown and sourced; where they are made and who really owned the;
  9. why they have not called for an amendment under the WTO to give protection to our key industries and our knowledge base;
  10. why they do not acknowledge the implications of decades of policies based on a false principle that everyone is playing by the same rules. Only Australia does this to our own. All the countries we trade with ignore our intellectual property, do not allow domination of key sectors in the supply chain to dictate prices and profits to their suppliers and import goods to replace their own. Australia cannot take advantage of the Asian century if we do not own our land and our manufacturing.
  11. Sign the AUSBUY petition

We are losing over 200 years knowledge of our land and our capacity for innovation as countries and global companies circle to buy our wealth creating assets. That is why AUSBUY goes to the people. Every $ you spend on Australian owned and made goods and services has a multiplier effect within our economy. $50 a week for every household becomes $50B multiplied in our economy. Sign 

Simplot and McCain both announce cut backs, threat of closures

In response to an article below from the Australian Food News Website on 5 June 2013.

Stop whinging – we have done this to ourselves!!! Simplot (USA) has been a relatively benign foreign investor since it bought many of the brands and factories formerly owned by the Australia Public Company in the mid 1990s (Edgells). Likewise we thought McCains (Canada) was here to stay. Will they follow the Heinz example to set up in New Zealand and sell back to us? Decisions are now made overseas about the closure of factories.

We have been complicit in the decline of our food manufacturing in Australia. Over the past three decades we have allowed majority control beyond the farm gate of every major food commodity except rice. The Australian Consumer and Competition Commission has overseen the loss of control to overseas interests and retailers in the name of competitiveness, while our farmers and our local manufacturers are expected to play to a different set of rules to their competitors.

While we claim food manufacturing is the largest manufacturing sector we have remaining, Australia has no major food companies. Decisions about our manufacturing are made in overseas board rooms, not here.

Other countries look after their own. New Zealand has the largest dairy company in the world, Fonterra. New Zealand obtained an amendment under the WTO rules to stop imports which impact their strategic industries. New Zealand stopped the sale of eight dairy farms to the Chinese last year because it did not meet the natioanl interest test. Its government cannot divest assets which are their for the long term interest of its citizens. Australians have no rights. Countries such as the USA strictly control manufactured goods through labelling law compliance. They decide what products will be sold in the USA.

Despite the warning signs, Australian decision makers turned a blind eye. Foreign investment at any cost has been the call cry! And our people are bearing the consequences! In recent years we have condoned the importation of packaged foods and fresh produce which does not meet our standards. Dumping is rife! Our labelling laws are inadequate. We have under resourced our gate keepers AQIS, Bio Security Australia and Australian Standards.

In recent years, aided by our high A$, our open door policy to imports, and our largess and benevolence to help developing countries, we have imported foods in direct competition with own farmers and their skills.

Our borders are not secure. Imports are coming from countries with labels which do not meet our standards, are replacing local producers on the shelf.

The growth of private label among the retailers has also put addition burden on our manufacturers to compete on price with overseas manufacturers if they want to keep their factories operational.

In addition, in recent years we have been net importers of food. While retailers might espouse their support for fresh produce on the shelves, imported foods are being substituted for local produce in many manufactured goods. Made in Australia does not mean it is owned here or sourced here with the current rules of 51% substantial transformation.

The problem in Australia is further exacerbated by the closures in our regional areas where produce is “value added”, creating skilled manufacturing jobs while our farming skills are retained.

The Australian owned businesses who are competing in this environment deserve our support. AUSBUY was prescient in warning of the consequences of loss of control of our wealth creating assets when it formed during the recession we had to have in 1991.

Australia’s challenge in the coming years is to rebuild our nation, get our people working productively for Australia again, and reinvesting in our future. If we cannot find answers to the questions we are asking then ask other questions. The seeds of the future are in those Australian owned companies and our farmers, many of whom have the answers. Are we listening?

 AUSBUY –Australian Companies Institute Limited Since 1991

Only Ownership Means the Decisions, Profits, Jobs, Skills and Reinvestment stay here

Interviews can be arranged – 02 94375455 or 0418314923

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Simplot and McCain both announce cut backs, threat of closures

  • June 5, 2013
  • Sophie Langley

Two prominent Australian food manufacturers have announced they are feeling the pressure from a “very competitive food industry environment” and may forced to make closures and reduce grower contracts.

Simplot Australia Pty Ltd has announced that two of its vegetable processing plants are at risk of closure, while McCain Foods Australia has confirmed that four potato growers in Ballarat have been notified they will not be offered contracts for the upcoming harvest period in late October – November 2013.

Simplot plants at risk of closure

Simplot Australia today advised employees at its plants in Bathurst (New South Wales) and Devonport (Tasmania) are under threat of closure. The Company said this was due to “unsatisfactory financial returns arising from a very competitive food industry environment and unsustainably high costs associated with manufacturing in Australia”.

The Company said the plants, which have both in the Simplot business for many years, are currently not competitive in the face of much lower cost imported product alternatives. According to Simplot, the high Australian dollar, while not causing the underlying lack of competitiveness, exacerbates the issues facing the plants.

“The frozen and canned vegetable categories have been chronic profit under-performers for years, regardless of the value of the Australian dollar,” said Terry O’Brien, Simplot Australia Managing Director. He said that the Company’s immediate imperative was to seek “sustainable improvement opportunites” with key stakeholders to help return the plants’ financial performance to the required level.

Simplot said meetings are being scheduled with local, State and Federal government representatives, employees, unions, suppliers and growers to discuss profit improvement opportunities.

“If insufficient opportunities are identified, we will be forced to close our Bathurst plant after the next corn season. Our Devonport plant will be required to produce a five year improvement plan with satisfactory outcomes or face the prospect of a longer term (3 to 5 year) closure,” Mr O’Brien said.

Australian vegetable and potato growers’ representative body AusVeg has said it is “deeply troubled” by Simplot’s announcement, and has called for the Australian Government to re-evaluate the food processing sector.

Simplot Australia said its parent company, the US-based JR Simplot Company, “remains steadfastly committed to the Australian food manufacturing industry” and is seeking ways for its Australian operations to improve returns in the face of “significant structural changes in the dynamics of the Australian market”.

The announcement follows an intensive six-month review of Simplot’s supply chain operations in the vegetable category.

McCain cuts growers

Meanwhile, McCain Foods has announced that four potato growers in Ballarat will not be offered contracts for the upcoming harvest period in late October – November 2013 because of surplus potatoes from 2012 and lower customer demand for the local product.

“The company has a long-standing history with many growers in Ballarat, Tasmania and South Australia, and we are committed to maintaining those relationships where we can,” said Mr Farnell. “It’s important we give as much notice as we can for this year so growers can look for other opportunities. We believe six months before planting is sufficient notice in the circumstances,” he said.

McCain Foods said it has been in discussions with growers across Australia for the past three months over the tonnage available and individual requirements.

“Australian potato prices were still very high compared to cheaper processed imports, and it’s important for grower committees across Australia to take leadership roles in tackling reforms to reduce inefficiencies in the system, which is vital in making our industry sustainable and competitive,” said Gerry Farnell, McCain Foods Integrated Supply Chain Director for APMEA.

McCain Foods said it had discussed the threat of imports with grower representatives and Victorian and Tasmanian State Government officials over the last 18 months through a working party to tackle reforms. McCain Foods said it would continue to consult with grower communities in each State on improving industry efficiencies and the development of new technologies to make the industry sustainable.

“Only a decade ago, Australia’s potato growers were competitive and import-resistant, and this should be the number one priority for growers,” Mr Farnell said.

No Money for Food – Where is it Going?

 

According to a journalist who has taken a forensic look at the Budget, the Government will be spending nearly half $B ($464M) in the next six weeks to promote something yet unknown. The inference is to buy votes or promote the NBN. This is either borrowed money or our money, yet we do nothing to plan for the long term future and sustainability of our food processors and farmers.  The Farmer Power Group established recently identified the plight on farms as incomes continue to decline.

 

Concerned people need to understand that food security is an issue of national importance – our farming skills, knowledge of the land, and investment in processing and value adding represent what is left of our manufacturing here in our cities and across regions. Australia has no major food company left relative to global brands. Our open door policies to imports, many of which do not meet our standards, our high dollar and the For Sale on our businesses and land exacerbate the problem. We have been complicit in allowing this to happen through poor policies and failure to plan long term. What we need to see is our Governments represented the long term interests and sustainability of the people they purport to represent. We need to support our owned while we still can.

 

 AUSBUY represents Australian owned companies exclusively and initiated a Food Security group nearly four years ago which identified the lack of research since 1998 to show the impact of policies on farm gate profitability and potential loss of skills. 

 

 Interviews can be arranged Lynne Wilkinson CEO AUSBUY 0294375455 or 0418314923

 

Who is Looking After Our Interests?

The SPC story of declining demand highlights the plight of our farmers and manufacturers yet again. We can only hope that a public company can get the attention of the Ministers for Agriculture and Trade, because they have certainly not been listening for decades. The Australian Companies Institute Limited (AUSBUY) has warned of the consequences of poor policies and loss of control of our assets for nearly 22 years. Reduced demand for farm goods, value added by manufacturers here needs to be addressed because the food industry is the last major manufacturing sector we have which represents a broad cross section of small, medium and large business throughout our regions.

The story is more complicated than at first appears. We have been complicit in the deteriorating situation for over two decades. Australia’s largess without a long term strategic plan has exacerbated our food security. Open door policies signed under the WTO and OECD Agreements, Free Trade Agreements that have rarely been to our advantage; reduced funding over the years for gatekeepers such as Bio Security Australia and AQIS; little control over the standards of imports relative to the standards required of our farmers and manufacturers; poor labelling laws showing country of origin; the high dollar; ACCC’s approval of control of every major food commodity except rice beyond the farm gate by foreign owned companies making our farmers price takers not price makers; loss of major iconic brands which are Australian owned; the growth of private label further eroding profits for local manufacturers;  and the ACCC’s recent  determination that there will be no code of conduct for retailers, all add to our food industry woes.

While SPC cites the high dollar and competition from own brand, private labels in supermarkets, the issue is a little more complicated. SPC’s lower demand for Australian fruit was exacerbated in recent years when they dismantled a factory in Shepparton and set it up in Spain, because Australian exports have an 18% tariff into the EU. This made sense for SPC and the Spanish farmers and factory workers there, but not for Australia. Coca Coal Amatil appreciated the value of the SPC brand. Its prestige both here and overseas built up over generations by the farmers’ cooperative.

What is happening to all the Australian owned manufacturers who do not have the might of Coca Cola Amatil? We should be supporting our owned brands. We can only hope that this will be wake up call. Consumers are increasingly concerned about where our food comes from and where our jobs are generated. That concern should be reflected by our policy makers. We need to listen to our owned while we still can. Sign the AUSBUY petition to ask for a hold on foreign sales until we have a national interest test.

Lynne Wilkinson

CEO – Australian Company Institute Limited

 

 

In Reference to:

SPC production cut to slice 50 percent of fruit growers crop

  • April 24, 2013
  • Sophie Langley

Australian industry groups are offering support to 170 Goulburn Valley fruitgrowers after food processing company SPC Ardmona said it would not be taking their produce from 1 May 2013.

The Company, which is a subsidiary of Coca Cola Amatil (CCA), said the high Australian dollar and competition from cheaper imported products have left it no choice. It forecast a reduction of up to 50 per cent in intake for some fruit categories for the 2014 season.

Australian Food News reported in February 2013 that SPC Ardmona’s troubles had led to a 22 per cent drop in earnings for its parent company CCA.

SPC Ardmona said it is currently half way through what it termed a three-year “business transformation strategy”, which aims to address issues of efficiency and waste reduction throughout the entire business. The Company said it plans to work with key retailers, who it believes do want to support Australian fruit growers.

“We are not competing on a level playing field against the overseas sourced private label products,” said Peter Kelly, Managing Director SPC Ardmona. “We are competing against products from countries that have considerably lower labour and production costs and arguably lower quality standards than we have in Australia,” he said.

“A more than 50 per cent appreciation in the Australian dollar in the past four years has made cheap imported food even cheaper and has also severely impacted on our export markets,” Mr Kelly said.

SPC Ardmona said market share of imported private label canned fruit had grown to 58 per cent, while SPC Ardmona canned fruit share had declined to 33 per cent and the Company’s export market volumes had declined by 90 per cent in the past five years.

According to data from market research organisation Nielsen, published in ‘Retail World Grocery Guide 2012’, SPC Ardmona had 50.2 per cent value share and 40.8 per cent volume share of the shelf-stable fruit category in 2012. The grocery guide showed that in 2012, private label products had 29.1 per cent value share in the category, and 39.8 per cent volume share.

The Company said it would be seeking temporary tariff protection relief from the Australian Government to assist the fruit processing industry during the period of the strong Australian dollar, and more effectively market its brands to consumers with “stronger Australian grown and Australian made messages”.

Speaking to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s (ABC) AM radio program, John Wilson, spokesperson for industry body Fruit Growers’ Victoria, agreed that the high Australian dollar was a big challenge for the sector.

“A combination of the collapse of global markets in North America and Europe and an oversupply of canned fruit; at the same time our Australian dollar purchasing power increased,” Mr Wilson told the ABC program. “And unfortunately the cannery can’t meet that competition on a short-term turnaround,” he said.

Mr Wilson said the fruit growing sector needed a “restructure program, a restructure package that has a transition and an exit component in it for the health of fruit growing right across the district”.

Does the sale of our wealth creating assets meet the national interest test>

“Does the sale of our wealth creating assets pass the national interest test?”
AUSBUY questions whether in our governments’ grab for cash, and the sales of our wealth creating assets (our land and our businesses) pass the national interest test. It has taken the ongoing downturn in the global economy and the “for sale” sign on our wealth creating assets for Australians to start to wake up to how loss of these assets will affect Australia’s debt reduction and long term prosperity. This has been the core issue for AUSBUY since 1991. But are our decisions makers listening?

The sale of our land to foreign companies and countries continues with few restrictions and those buying our land do not reciprocate the opportunity. Under the FIRB foreign countries or companies can buy any assets under $244m or if the USA $1001 and the Government does not need to know. Foreign countries buying our land have long recognised the importance of food security, yet successive decades of policy decisions have forced our farmers off their land.

AUSBUY is asking concerned Australians to consider these issues.
AUSBUY invites every concerned Australian to have your say. Go to the www.ausbuy.com.au and click on the Time to Wake Up Australia banner where you can have your say and read the background information. There is a petition and a survey for you to complete – you will be heard. We ask you to help us spread the word.
The full article can be found in Be Informed on the AUSBUY web site.