June 5, 2012
The government’s plans to make northern Australia into an Asian food bowl with the help of Chinese investment may run into trouble, after a new poll confirmed opposition to foreigners buying the farm. The annual 2012 Lowy Institute poll found 81 per cent of Australians were against foreign firms buying Australian farmland. It was one of the strongest results recorded on any question the poll has asked in its short history, The Australian Financial Review reports. It found 63 per cent were strongly opposed, 56 per cent believed the Gillard government was allowing too much Chinese investment in Australia and 54 per cent wanted food production to stay in Australian hands. The annual snapshot of Australian attitudes to foreign and security policy was done in a phone poll of 1005 people between March 26 and April 10. Lowy Institute of International Policy executive director Michael Wesley said the results reflected a “general anxiety among Australians about the volatility of the global economy and about the exposure of Australia’s economy to global forces”. Dr Wesley said it was the first time the survey had delved into foreign land ownership and any government intent on opening up an Asian food bowl should “take note of the strong reaction”.