Mr Giles says he has no issue with foreign investment, but is concerned the price of baby formula and meat could rise if the proposed sale of Australia’s largest landholder to Chinese interests is not handled properly.
“If we’re going to see the price of T-bone per kilo going through the roof, where Australians can’t afford T-bones, if we’re going to see the price of rump steak and scotch fillet go up to a price that’s unaffordable … well, that’s where I think the balance of food security for Australians needs to be weighed up in some of these investment decision that are being made,” he told Sky News.
Australia’s largest landowner, S Kidman and Co, which includes two stations in the Northern Territory, is set to be sold to Chinese interests.
Treasurer Scott Morrison has announced an independent review of the sale, which is already subject to approval from the Foreign Investment Review Board.
One of Mr Giles’ concerns lies around the price and availability of powdered milk.
It is used extensively in remote communities, as well as in baby formula.
Australian supermarkets have already seen shelves emptied of baby formula as Chinese buyers stock up in bulk and send the product home.
Mr Giles says these issues need to be considered when assessing any sale.
“When it starts affecting everyday Australians, mums who are trying to feed their kids, that’s when Australia has a problem, and I think that’s where you have to make sure you have an equalisation or a balanced look at how the investment could potentially effect food security or energy security in this nation,” he said.
Mr Giles said Australia’s first priority needed to be the ability to stand on its own two feet.
“If we can look after ourselves, foreign investment is fine, but if there start to become gaps in the market, or if we start to price ourselves out of the market, where Australians can’t afford baby formula, can’t access baby formula, can’t afford a T-bone steak or can’t access a T-bone steak, that’s when we start to have challenges,” he said.
The foreign investment review board has 90 days to review the Kidman and Co sale.