Friday, 15 November 2013

PM ‘poised to veto GrainCorp takeover’ – Where does that leave the Treasurer’s independent judgment?

I don’t know whether Andrew Probyn and Shane Wright have got it correct with their story in The West Australian this morning but if they have it’s a nice old slap in the face for Treasurer Joe Hockey. The pair write:
Senior Liberals believe Tony Abbott is poised to veto a multi-billion takeover of Australian wheat company GrainCorp.
In the first big test of the Prime Minister’s claim that Australia is “open for business”, coalition figures say Mr Abbott is inclined to say no to the purchase or make conditions so onerous as to make it unviable.
Archer Daniels Midland is making a $3.4 billion takeover bid for the East Coast bulk grain handler.
Treasurer Joe Hockey has until December 17 to make a decision under foreign investment laws whether to allow the sale which is being opposed by wheat growers through Queensland, NSW and Victoria.
Some rural Liberals and members of the Nationals, including Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss, have effectively urged Mr Hockey to reject the sale.
One Cabinet minister supportive of the sale believes Mr Truss was speaking with the PM’s “imprimatur” when he spoke stridently against the move 12 days ago on the ABC’s Insiders program.
The Senate yesterday agreed to a short inquiry into the sale. It will be co-chaired by Bill Heffernan, a NSW rural Liberal, farmer and ally of Mr Abbott.
Supposedly foreign investment decisions are made by the Treasurer alone and joe Hockey has been adamant that he will be making the decision himself based on the national interest.
“My job is to ensure that foreign investment is not contrary to the national interest. It is a powerful test, it weighs heavily. I will do what is right for my country,” he recently told the ABC.
Perhaps we are about to see that what is right for the country is doing what the Prime Minister needs to keep his coalition partner, the Nationals, happy.
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