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New Indian owners of Oz coal mine want West Australians to pay double for electricity or supply will divert to India

Six months ago an Indian energy corporation, Lanco Infratech, bought an Australian coalmine for $750 million dollars. Although, at the time, it agreed to lower-prices for customers, now it is telling the West Australian government that it will stop supplying electricity to West Australians by September unless Australian customers pay double. Six months ago Indian energy corporation, Lanco Infratech, bought an Australian coalminefor $750 million dollars. Although, at the time, it agreed to lower-prices for customers, now it is telling the West Australian government that it will stop supplying electricity to West Australians by September unless Australian customers pay double.

In 2006: the "Western Australia Domestic Gas Reservation Policy" aimed to safeguard LNG fuel supplies for Australians:

"The equivalent of 15 per cent of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) production from export gas projects will now be required to be reserved for domestic use as a condition of access to WA land for the location of processing facilities."

So a mere 15% of Western Australia's liquefied natural gas, which according to a report (PDF, 223K, linked to from here) of the DomGas Alliance, "Western Australia’s natural gas resources, could be fully depleted within 30 years," is to be reserved for domestic use and the remaining 85% allowed to be sent overseas.

As inadequate as the 2006 provisions to protect LNG will become in the face of increasingly savage oil and gas depletion, they are better than our policies of digging up and exporting coal as fast as possible, leaving absolutely nothing in reserve.

West Australian electricity supplies under threat from foreign ownership

Six months ago Indian energy corporation, Lanco Infratech, bought an Australian coalmine from Ric Stowe for $750 million dollars. Although, at the time, it agreed to lower-prices, now it is telling the West Australian government that it will stop supplying electricity to West Australians by September unless Australian customers pay double.

The Bluewaters power station (also owned by Ric Stowe) is itself in the process of being sold to two Japanese companies, Sumitomo and Kansai Electric.

The West Australian Premier, Colin Barnett, has been accused by the opposition state development spokesperson, Mark McGowan, of failing to safeguard West Australia's power supply by not having put in place a 'coal reservation policy' similar to the one already in place for West Australia's natural gas industry.

A chief executive of the holding company for Bluewaters, Griffin Group, Mr Ashcroft, is quoted by the Financial Review as saying,

"What is unfolding here is that our Collie coal will be more and more targeted for export with domestic supplies becoming a second priortiy and only at increasing prices."

Why is West Australian Liberal Premier Colin Barnett resisting these perfectly reasonable demands that he act responsibly and reserve that minimal amount of coal for the needs of Western Australians?

Source: "Barnett rejects call to set aside coal," The Australian Financial Review, Monday 20 June 2011

Don't mention the war

There is something politically incorrect about mentioning past wars because they are almost always a source of embarassment for current governments and the pseudo-sophisticated classes that would rather we all pretended that we were being governed for our own good. Take WW2, where about 40,000 Australians and even more Japanese lost their lives fighting each other on behalf of governments which claimed to be ordering this in the name of their homes and families.

How do Australians who lost their spouses, children and parents in WW2 defending Australia's security and resources deal with the bizarre fact that today's governments are signing our agricultural land, our mineral wealth, and our built infrastructure over in peace time in exchange for a bit of cash up front? Indeed, how does any Australian? Concerns are entirely justified. In ten years time when fuel prices are reaching beyond the wages of many households, the amounts paid today by the purchasers of these energy sources will seem paltry and ephemeral.

Surely it was obvious to our current leaders that our control over these increasingly scarce resources could not be guaranteed by mere sales contracts and polite agreements?

The problems now arising with Indian coal could be the beginning of the end. Are they a sign that members of our governments are just going to surrender, in exchange for cash, the bulk of our scarcest resources to any cashed-up foreign corporation that can then search the world for the most cashed-up market, leaving Australians high and dry?

The economic policy of globalism relies in part on the notion that the intertwining of interests and ownership globally will make countries too interdependent to engage in war. The problem is that globalism makes no provision to protect the rights of citizens and individuals to self-government locally and to maintaining control of essential services and resources locally. It doesn't prevent wars either. They are going on all over the place - in the name of peace and democracy - ironically .

Food security also ignored by our cash-mad 'leaders' this week

And just this week the Senate Economics Committee rejected calls by independent and Greens senators to create a special legislative national interest test for purchases of agricultural land above a certain threshold and to require the Treasurer to publish applications of interest in Australian farms online. The proposed laws were intended to protect Australia's food supply and to reveal the true owners of the nation's farming businesses. The reason for concern is that significant portions of Australian farming land are now being acquired by foreign nations with interests which could become conflictual to those of Australians. The Senate Economics Committee appeared to evade its responsibility, and really to condemn our economy, providing as their excuse for rejecting the legislative proposals the idea that Australia needs to sell off equity in order to create industry and jobs for Australians. They settled for an audit.

Source: Chapter 2 of Food production in Australia - Final report, Parliament of Australia, Senate Select Committee on Agriculture and Related Industries, 23 August 2010:

"Foreign ownership

2.47 Finally, the committee briefly explored the prospect of foreign ownership of Australian agricultural land, particularly the existing regulatory approach to major foreign land acquisitions.

2.48 The Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB) informed the committee that investment in agricultural land by foreign investors is generally exempt from the requirement to notify the government in accordance with the Foreign Acquisitions and Takeovers Act 1975. Only if the acquisition exceeds 15 per cent of a business or corporation whose Australian interests are valued above $231 million, or where the investment is made by a foreign government or their agency, is it subject to scrutiny from the Australian Government to establish whether any national interest concerns are raised.[47]

2.49 The committee notes that incremental purchases exceeding the threshold amount in aggregate are not required to be disclosed. The committee also notes that in some countries the distinction between foreign governments and companies is not necessarily straightforward.

Committee view

2.50 Land available for agriculture is declining across the globe as expanding populations inhabit fertile land that could otherwise be devoted to food production. Although this problem is not as severe in Australia as it is in countries with a smaller land mass, urban encroachment is nonetheless affecting the capacity of Australian producers to grow food in the areas in which it is demanded, which in turn affects its quality and affordability. Competition for fertile land from mining and biofuels also threatens to reduce Australia's productive capacity.

2.51 The committee recognises that it is difficult for governments to dictate to landowners the purpose for which their land must be used, particularly when agricultural production may not presently be the most profitable possible use. However, Australian governments need to give serious consideration to mechanisms for protecting our most fertile agricultural land from alternative uses in the interests of our long term productive capacity and food security.

2.52 The committee also notes the marginal viability of agricultural production and the difficulty for potential young farmers to enter the sector, due to high land prices which combine to leave agricultural production vulnerable to structures that are less desirable than traditional family farming. Corporate farming models have the advantage of attracting extra capital to agriculture, though there are questions about the availability of labour and long term stewardship of the land. More significantly, though, Australia risks foreign companies, many with close ties to their home governments, purchasing substantial strategic interests in Australian land without needing to be vetted for national interest concerns. Australia needs to be careful that Australia's productive capacity is not undermined by foreign interests producing food on Australian land that is not intended for trade, but for direct supply to countries that have not managed their own food security needs.

Recommendation 1

2.53 The committee recommends an audit be undertaken to establish the extent of foreign ownership of commercial agricultural and pastoral land, and ownership of water, in Australia, with particular emphasis on ownership by sovereign and part-sovereign-owned companies."

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Tony Boys's picture

Horrific story, but the details are not clear to me. Lanco Infratech bought the coal mine, but also own the power station supplying the electricity? Or is it that they are going to demand double the price of the coal or export it? Also, the Japanese companies are buying a power station from the same person (company?) that owned the coal mine, but is this the power station that is involved in the doubling of the price of electricity, or is it another power station, or are there several power stations? (Sorry, I'm not doubting what you say, but just want to get a a better visualization of what is happening.) How large an area of WA will be affected (and about how many people?) And if you know, what is the price of 1 kWh there now and what will it be if they have to pay double in September?

I also agree that maintaining a hold on national mineral (energy) resources amid the advances of globalization is a serious problem. Look at Indonesia and the UK as examples of countries that have recently become net oil/NG importers after being net exporters just a few years ago. Further, Australia is also a major uranium exporter. I'm sure you do NOT agree with the exploitation of the uranium resource either for export or domestic use, but this issue (in the overall context of 'energy' and in the context of nuclear power) needs to be discussed, which is what I am trying to do in the Australian context on Nuke Talk - I'd be very happy to exchange views with Australians and others on that forum!

Due to global population blowouts, top quality agricultural land has never been more valuable. Government-backed foreign companies have begun buying up farmland around the world, with Australia’s vast tracts of top quality primary production land a prime target. Our land is becoming international territory.

For example, Qatar-based Hassad Foods has been a major player in the big local farmland buy-up. The company has invested more than $60 million in prime Australian sheep grazing land in the past year, with more properties in the company’s sights.

The secretive deal includes five homesteads around Willaura and Dunkeld, near Ararat, and is believed to be one of the largest acquisitions of Victorian pastoral land in recent history.

Foreign government-backed and private companies from the Middle East, China and the US continue to buy into Australian agriculture - parasitically to secure land for their swollen population numbers.

Australia's foolish open-door policy needs to be made accountable to scrutiny.

Australia is easy-picking due to our government willing to sell off our assets to the highest bidder.

The Middle East agricultural company is poised to snap up 8500ha of Western District land in a $35 million deal. Hassad’s burgeoning portfolio also includes 6800 hectares of sheep grazing land in Canowindra in New South Wales. Our sovereignty is being sold - our birthright is vanishing due to our generous globalized government. Last week Hassad were poised to snap up a further 8500 hectares of land in Victoria’s western district in a deal worth $35 million?—?about 20% above market price. Filthy lucre - money - can buy out our own food security and we are still be become a "big Australia"!

While our Lucky Country has faded away due to poor leadership and population growth, at least we could hold on to our heritage - and the heritage of our indigenous and Colonial fore-bearers. Losing our own land is allowing a parasite infection to invade our inner-most being, our soul, our very being. It makes you wonder what the Anzacs fought and died for - only to have foreigners buy and control land under the Australian flag! It's invasion by stealth.

Qatar’s economy boom, a result of its plentiful supplies of natural gas, has led to large-scale immigration of Western expats hoping to benefit from the country’s growing economy. Farah Ahmed Hersi, senior economist at Masraf al Rayan said: "We believe Qatar's population will continue to grow at an steady base of 5.3 per year, as there are still plenty of untapped resources in the country, including some energy-related resources that would fuel growth in the foreseeable future and serve as a magnet for expatriates.” Obviously their food-growing resources don't match their energy and economic resources, so they must import 90% of their food!

This means searching out land to secure their food security in the future.

Few people feel any connection with Australia now, and the patriotism of the past is fast fading. This is a betrayal of the interests of all Australians, now and in the future. With "big Australia" inevitable, how is our own food security going to be ensured? We should be investing in food for the coming famine, due to land degradation and global overpopulation. Food could be come the next resource boom, and it will be lost due to our own population size, urban sprawl of lush arable land, and lack of farming land. We could be struggling to feed ourselves, and at the mercy of these new owners! Why is Australia's ownership being dismantled and dispersed? It just lack of respect for our sovereignty and our heritage.

Qatar land grab angers bush

Arab buy up in Western District