Sometime the mavericks speak the most sense.
Yesterday, independent MP Bob Katter threw his support behind the Coalition, but called for curbs to Australia’s immigration intake, stronger controls on foreign ownership, and a banking Royal Commission. From ABC Radio:
LOUISE YAXLEY: Bob Katter isn’t the kingmaker yet, but he is talking up his political powers.
BOB KATTER: If I can put somebody in, I can put somebody out too I can tell you…
LOUISE YAXLEY: He wants immigration restricted.
BOB KATTER: I am saying a reduction of all immigration to Australia to virtually nil, except for those people who are persecuted minority groups. And clearly, they are, and I name them again, the Sikhs, the Jews, and the Christians, Christians in the Middle East.
LOUISE YAXLEY: And he opposes expanded foreign ownership.
BOB KATTER: We will be acting with aggression to stop further ownership of the assets of Australia. If they want to bring development capital in, but that is not what is happening. The capital is coming now, is buying assets that we as a people in Australia have created.
LOUISE YAXLEY: Bob Katter strongly supports Labor’s push for a banking royal commission.
BOB KATTER: Absolutely 100 per cent, 1,000 per cent.
Katter last year launched a change.org online petition calling for an end to mass immigration in the interests of reducing long-term and youth unemployment. So he has consistency on this issue.
Australia’s immigration intake has been widely rorted (see here, here and here). The overall intake is also far too high (see next chart), and is placing all kinds of strains on infrastructure, housing, the environment, and overall living standards, as well as diluting Australia’s fixed endowment of resources.
While, I don’t necessarily think that Australia needs zero net migration, it does need to be reduced significantly overall and should be skewed towards genuine refugees.
Katter also talks sense on foreign ownership.
The worst thing about Australia’s foreign investment regime is that it wrongly confuses the transfer of ownership of assets to foreigners, whereby no real investment (capital deepening) takes place, with genuine foreign investment.
The former (which is the dominant source) is akin to “selling the family jewels”, and should be discouraged, whereas the latter actually adds to the nation’s productive capacity, and should be encouraged.
If a foreign entity wants to set-up a factory or a new industry in Australia. Fantastic. But if it merely wishes to buy an existing asset (home, farm, etc) and not undertake any productive enhancements, then it should be disallowed. Otherwise, we are ‘selling-off the farm’ and our children’s future, pure and simple.
Finally, given the widespread reports about banks manipulating the bank bill swap rate, mortgage fraud, and overall dodgy lending standards, Katter’s call for a banking Royal Commission also makes a lot of sense, since it may be the only way to get to the bottom of their systemic dodgy practices.
Hopefully Katter will hold the balance-of-power in the lower house and can extract some policy action in these areas.