Originally published in The Canberra Times on September 15, 2012

The Nationals are worried about Chinese farm ownership yet it’s European mine ownership that’s harmed farmers Australians, it seems, don’t like selling off the farm. And the National Party really doesn’t seem to like selling them to the Chinese. But while the Nationals have a long, if not always proud, history in Australia it is interesting that we seem to care far more about selling off the farms on top of our vast continent than we do about selling off the enormous mineral deposits underneath it. The biggest miners in Australia, BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto, are majority foreign-owned. The third largest, Xstrata, is 100 per cent foreign-owned. All up, 83 per cent of mining profits in Australia flow to the foreign owners of the mining giants that operate in Australia. There is no doubt that Cubbie Station in Queensland is a big farm. But its purchase by Chinese investors for about $300 million pales into insignificance when compared to the $10 billion mining investment by China in 2010-11. But Chinese investment in Australia is small beer compared with British and American ownership of our resources. Indeed, last year 34.9 per cent of the $87 billion in dividends and other income flowing out of Australia went to Britain and the United States compared to only 0.7 per cent to China.

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