(Australian Associated Press)
Andrew “Twiggy” Forrest says the heat will soon come out of the public debate surrounding Chinese investment in Australian agriculture.
The mining magnate and cattle producer believes Australians in the future will be “whingeing there is not enough Chinese investment”.
“The heat will come out of it,” Mr Forrest told the Australia Sino 100 Year Agriculture and Food Safety Partnership forum in Canberra on Tuesday.
In the 1950s, Australia was worried about American investment in the Australian car industry, while there was concern about Japanese investment in the 1980s, he noted.
The dining boom in China is now an opportunity to turn around the fortunes of the farm sector.
He likened the price squeeze on the margins for farmers selling produce to supermarkets as a “malignant cancer”.
“By the time we were waking up to it, it was the children who are pointing out to us the hopelessness of our (agriculture) industry,” Mr Forrest said.
Former Howard government trade minister Mark Vaile said the investment relationship with China was slowly maturing.
Previously, the Chinese were seeking control of agricultural land investments but now they were seeing more merit in joint partnerships.
“They need the management expertise as well,” he said.