As Australian as you can get
The following exerts are from an article published in the Melbourne Herald Sun dated 8 March 2001.
Australia Sells Out
Foreign ownership of Australia is set to smash the $1000 billion barrier – that's $1,000,000,000,000.
Foreign investment in Australian shares and businesses is booming while control of overseas investment is at a new low.
Of the 21,423 proposals lodged with Australia's foreign investment watchdog in the past five years, only 612 have been rejected. And thousands of other deals have escaped official scrutiny after a 1999 rule change to encourage international spending in Australia.
According to the executive director of the National Institute of Economic and Industry Research, Peter Brain, Australia is losing key industries and its national identity to foreign corporations.
"It's war. Foreign interests identify threatening industries in countries such as Australia and buy them," Dr Brain said.
"And because no one seems to care about what's happening, Australian targets are virtually undefended – like we're using muskets to fight a modern army."
Dr Brain, the first economist to predict the Asian economic meltdown, said that foreign investment was valuable when it created jobs, exports and local infrastructure.
But he said successive governments' hunger for foreign cash had created a virtual free-for-all in which key Australian industries are being picked off.
Australian Companies Institute director and former member of the Kennett government's food advisory board, Lynne Wilkinson, said each sale of a strategic industry reduced the nation's ability to control its economic destiny.
"It's no coincidence that our welfare bill is now $55 billion. Foreign buy-outs have devastated manufacturing and people who would have been working in factories are now on the dole," she said.
But advocates of increased foreign investment and ownership say Australian's quality of life depends on international interest in our industries.
And they point to recent studies which show even a 1 percent restriction on the inflow of foreign capital would cause an equal, and potentially disastrous, cut in GDP.
The studies also claim the wealth created by foreign investment adds at least $1000 to the annual pay packet of Australian salary earners and creates thousands of jobs.
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