|Foreign ownership - the numbers|
We're not comfortable with it, we reluctantly admit we need it, but we can't think of too many things we'd give over to it? What is it?
Foreign investment is the answer.
We had 315 responses to our poll with a reasonable, though not perfect, spread across the political spectrum, and as the table below shows, with the exception of ALP voters we are not comfortable with foreign investment.
"How comfortable or uncomfortable are you with foreign investment in Australia?"
I'm more than slightly surprised at the ALP and the LNP responses. I would have thought that the LNP would be in favour of foreign investment and the ALP opposed (as are Greens voters). But that wasn't the case. However, looking more closely, the difference wasn't so much in terms of support where 45% of Labor voters are comfortable with foreign investment along with 40% of LNP voters, but in terms of opposition where the relevant figures are 28% and 47% respectively.
I asked the first question to get a handle on people's aspirations. The real test is more likely to be whether voters will accept foreign ownership, not whether they are comfortable with it, and here the policy makers can have a little relief.
"How strongly would you agree or disagree that foreign investment is necessary for Australia?"
Here there is little between the two largest parties. The two smaller parties also share a similar outlook. It seems that despite their druthers, most Australians will accept foreign investment.
There is just the small matter of what they will allow foreigners to buy.
"How strongly do you approve or disapprove of the proposed sale of Cubbie Station to a Chinese-owned company?"
Katter and Greens voters are very heavily opposed to this sale, with LNP voters moderately heavily opposed. In each case those disapproving of the sale is well clear of 50%. Only ALP voters show any degree of support, but approval is less than 50% and disapproval is more than one-third.
As the qual shows, the reasons for opposition are not necessarily anything to do with economics, so it may be that this was a bad example to choose. It might also be that there is no example that doesn't carry some sort of emotional charge with it and that while we are prepared to accept sales to overseas investors in the abstract, it is not a proposition we will accept in the particular.