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Wary of foreign buyers

It should be obvious that being open for business is not the same as selling the business (“Be wary on foreign funds: RBA”, 17/8). Investment should mean partnerships and start-up capital — not selling going concerns, whether farms or entire state-owned utility providers such as the NSW electricity infrastructure.

A complication is that Australia’s accumulated balance of payments deficit is now at an alarming level, and largely sustained by overseas borrowing and asset sales to foreigners. Yet both our sovereignty and food security are at stake here, and our government should not be swayed by cynical complaints from China, where lock, stock and barrel foreign ownership is not permitted. There is a great difference between a Chinese company extending the Ord River scheme and the numerous sales contemplated or already completed.

John Morrissey, Hawthorn, Vic

RBA governor Glenn Stevens says Australia should do more to attract the flow of funds that build new businesses, but be more cautious about foreigners purchasing existing Australian ­assets.

Foreigners buying Australian houses are helping to keep young people out of the housing market. Vancouver, where the same phenomenon prevails, has recently introduced a 15 per cent tax on home sales to people without Canadian citizenship. It is an excellent initiative and one that Australia should emulate.

Jenny Goldie, Michelago, NSW

Chinese mess of pottage

I always look askance at any report that has Chinese input. The East Asian Bureau of Economic Research at the Australian National University should be ashamed of itself (“Friend or foe? Our China dilemma is our biggest test”, 17/8). There are undoubtedly opportunities for Australia as China makes the transition to a consumption-led and services-based economy, but it should not be at the expense of selling Australia for a mess of pottage.

China’s strategy of creeping and insidious incrementalism has to be curbed. China does not have cultural concepts of reciprocity or of equality. It is an authoritarian bully whose plan is to control the whole of East and Southeast Asia as tributary states, including Australia.

The problem with economists is that there are no people, cultures or nations in their calculations, which is why they are so often wrong.

Jim Wilson, Beaumont, SA