The Question of Australian Food Security

Australia-food bowlWhile our Government if busy cutting red and green tape, labouring over ‘policies’, and funding repetitive and redundant ‘reports’ that never see the daylight or action, Australia is entering a quiet crisis that is not quite visible yet to the general public.

Yes, it’s about the looming food security crisis.

 

According to a story in the Manufacturers Monthly Newspaper (MAN), Longwarry Food Park, one of the winners of the Endeavour Awards in May, seems to be only a few digits away from selling the business to one of the foreign companies keen to acquire the successful dairy manufacturer.

The reported $150 million would provide for a nice lifestyle for the owner, Rakesh Aggarwal, who bought a “sick” Bonlac factory in 2001 and has grown Longwarry from being a one-product company to a multi-product operation processing about 100 million litres of milk a year. Congratulations!

“Dairy is doing great. Demand is strong and the industry is doing well. I think it’s very exciting for the ­business,” said Mr Aggarwal.

Longwarry currently sells products through Australia’s three major retailers, but the bulk of its revenue – about 80 per cent – comes from its exports to over 30 countries.

Confirmed Asian, European and local bidders are vying for Longwarry.

You can call me nationalistic, but the point is that we live in a world of divided into nations which painstakingly protect their most valuable assets. Examples include recent legislation protecting words like ‘Champagne’ and ‘Port’. Some countries protect their energy and mineral reserves with legislation favouring their national interests and keeping the ‘nuts’ for a long, cold winter to come.

This is not about protectionism. It’s about a smart approach to using the ‘family wealth’.

Just imagine selling your house, so that you can rent and enjoy spending money early! If you get a large enough price to last you for the rest of your life, and maybe even leave some for your children or favourite charity, that’s great.

But what if the landlord suddenly raises the rent, or evicts you because they want to build a car-park or convert the block to growing renewable fuel crops? There goes your lifestyle.

Plus, if you don’t own your house, you can’t modify it or any investment in improvements wouldn’t be feasible.

History has taught several countries and societies – sometimes too late – that you don’t sell or permanently gift real estate or your ‘gold mine’ to foreign interests. Poland ‘gave’ a small province to Teutonic Knights for a ‘favour’ and it took over 200 years of bloody wars to prevent the permanent loss of the country’s freedom. Russian tsars sold Alaska to the United States because their family wanted to fund their lifestyle. Well, I won’t cry over this one but Mr Putin may have other thoughts.

If we continue to sell our farms, factories, unexploited IP, minerals and non-renewable energy sources; we will soon become disposable tenants and second class citizens in our own country, at the mercy of foreign landlords.

Why are gas prices high in Australia, making our manufacturing even more uncompetitive? Because we are not making decisions that ‘advantage’ our industry. Those resources are increasingly owned by foreign interests without concern or obligation to Australian economy and community.

Back to food security: Why would those foreign owners want to bother with the small – and progressively poorer – Australian market, when there are large and growing markets for our clean, fresh food elsewhere?

This is why we need a long-term Vision for Australia and that is where our Government should focus its efforts. Not all red and green tape is equally safe to cut!
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