VANGUARD - Expressing the viewpoint of the Communist Party of Australia (Marxist-Leninist)
For National Independence and Socialism • www.cpaml.org
Reflecting what is happening in the housing market in Australia, the prices paid for farming land in Australia have hit record heights. For example, in Victoria’s Wimmera district, land prices have more than doubled in the last year. Prices paid for properties in Victoria’s North-East and Western districts also set new records this year.
Farmers are expressing concerns that these high prices will make it impossible for young people wanting to become farmers to buy a property. They are also warning that it would be difficult to earn a sufficient return from a property bought at a high price to cover the loan repayments, let alone make a living from the property.
Good seasons, high commodity prices and the relative cheapness of Australian farm land compared to other countries, are making Australian farm properties attractive to investors in recent years. Vanguard has reported the massive purchase of Australian rural properties by overseas corporate investors, especially the Canadian superannuation fund, PSP Investments.
There are also a number of wealthy individuals both foreign and Australian, who have large stakes in Australian rural real estate. Topping the list is Sir Li Ka-Shing (Hong Kong), who has about $1 billion invested in a wide variety of enterprises.
Other overseas investors include Ray Dalo (US), the Rausing Family (UK), Hui Wing Mau and Feng Hailiang (both China). They all have extensive investments in cattle stations, forestry and other types of farming.
The three richest Australian investors in agriculture need no introduction to Vanguard readers. They are mining tycoons Gina Rinehart and Andrew Forrest and Channel Seven owner Kerry Stokes. Their interests are mainly in beef cattle farming.
Ms Rinehart, whose net worth is over $30 billion, controls one of Australia’s biggest pastoral empires with about 10 million hectares of land. She has about 1.9 million hectares on the market with a view to raising capital to buy out her Chinese partner in the legendary Kidman and Co. pastoral company they bought in 2016.
Placed against investors with this sort of money at their command, small farmers and would-be farmers don’t stand much of a chance of buying farm properties. Australia’s farm land must be run for the benefit of all Australians, not wealthy companies and individuals.