Foreign investment ‘greatest potential’ for NT ag growth: minister

TERRITORIANS should welcome, not worry about, foreign investment in the region’s agricultural sector, according to Primary Industry and Fisheries Minister Willem Westra van Holthe.

Mr Westra van Holthe made the comment following the announcement that Elizabeth Downs, a 205,000-hectare property in the Douglas Daly region, had been sold to a Chinese company this month for $11.5 million.

Foreign agricultural investment in Australia has been a contentious issue in recent years, with public outrage surrounding the sale of iconic south-west Queensland cotton farm Cubbie Station to a Chinese-led syndicate in 2012.

PRIMARY PERSPECTIVE: Primary Industry and Fisheries Minister Willem Westra van Holthe says Territorians should view foreign agricultural investment as a positive.

PRIMARY PERSPECTIVE: Primary Industry and Fisheries Minister Willem Westra van Holthe says Territorians should view foreign agricultural investment as a positive.

The Primary Industry and Fisheries Minister said he believed pastoral leases made foreign investment a different prospect in the Northern Territory.

“We do live in a different paradigm up here,” he told the Katherine Times at the NT Field Days.

“We don’t actually sell our pastoral estate, we only sell a lease to it, so it’s not like you’re handing over great swathes of land to foreign interests.” 

Mr Westra van Holthe said believed Territorians would be “quite accepting” of foreign agricultural investment, adding that he saw it as a major pathway to growth.

“I think the greatest potential currently is for foreign investment to come into the North Territory and give us the [economic] boost that we need,” he said.

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