The Nationals are celebrating after federal Treasurer Joe Hockey’s decision to block an American food giant’s takeover bid for GrainCorp.
Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce said grain growers were overwhelmingly “dead against” the proposed takeover by US company Archer Daniels Midland.
Mr Joyce said, when less than one per cent of foreign takeover bids were being rejected, the argument that Australia is not open for business didn’t stack up.
He said it was important to protect Australia’s food security.
“In the next 50 years, the world will consume more food than it has in the history of humankind on the planet,” he told ABC Radio.
“We want to make sure Australia’s got the best potential to be a larger player and benefactor of that.”
Nationals MP Andrew Broad denied Mr Hockey’s decision was based on appeasing his party.
“That’s nonsense,” he told ABC TV.
“The treasurer made a call, he didn’t reveal his hand to people, he went through the process in the most appropriate way.”
Nationals senator John Williams said it was odd that the Foreign Investment Review Board was divided on the issue.
“They’re usually a rubber stamping factory for selling things off in rural Australia,” Senator Williams told ABC Radio.
“When they were divided, that also sent a message to Joe Hockey … this had to be reconsidered.”
He said rural-based Liberal MPs such as Bill Heffernan and Sharman Stone and his National Party colleagues had put a strong case to Mr Hockey.
If the takeover had proceeded, ADM would be selling fertiliser and chemicals, buying the grain, transporting it by its own rail and ship network and processing it in its Chinese factory.
“It’s not just about the grain industry, it’s about vertical integration and the affect on our processing in Australia,” he said.
Senator Williams said former treasurer Peter Costello rejected Shell’s proposed takeover of Woodside and that didn’t damage foreign investment prospects.