ENTREPRENEUR Dick Smith has accused the Australian Government of lacking “great leadership” in planning for a long-term stable economy, after the State Government recently appointed a Chinese company to develop Ord Stage 2 in Kununurra.
Mr Smith said he was “disappointed” the State Government’s preferred proponent to develop land in the Ord was
Chinese conglomerate Shanghai Zhongfu as opposed to an Australian company.
“It’s something we should be doing as a nation, like the Snowy Mountains scheme,” he said. “Surely it’s better to own the Ord scheme completely and be reaping the profits in Australia.”
Mr Smith, who is one of the biggest stakeholders in Australian Agriculture Company – a major beef producer which also vied for the Ord tender, said the Government’s decision reiterated his concern over foreign investment.
“I’m not allowed to buy any productive land in China at all, nor can I do that in the United States unless I’m a citizen, but we’re allowing [it], and quite often it’s the Chinese Government which is buying our land and our farms,” he said.
Mr Smith said he welcomed potential foreign investors emigrating to Australia to buy and run properties, instead of “absentee owners”.
“Foreign investment is great, if people are taking risks, people like Ford and Toyota and Holden have come here and taken great risk and that’s the kind of investment we want, creating jobs,” he said. “But buying existing Australian companies I don’t think is a good idea.”
Australian politicians lacked “great leadership” when it came to planning long term for future generations, Mr Smith said.
“The Government just looks at the four-year term, whereas we should have leaders who say we’re not going to look at just the short term, we’re going to look at the longer term and we’re going to make plans so our grandchildren can have the same benefits we have,” he said. Mr Smith said the Chinese Government took a “longterm view” of the future.
“Maybe there are advantages in not being a democracy,” he said. “We need a leader who says that can’t go on forever and we should be planning now for a stable economy.”