Tasmanian Times

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. No price is too high for the privilege of owning yourself. ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. No price is too high for the privilege of owning yourself. ~ Friedrich Nietzsche


Don’t sell off the farm …

The Independent Member for Denison, Andrew Wilkie, will call on the Government to stop the sale of the Van Diemen’s Land Company in northern Tasmania to the Chinese.

“The Van Diemen’s Land Company is the largest dairy asset in Australia, was established in 1824 and is the last Royal Charter company to farm land exclusively within the original land grant,” Mr Wilkie said.

“It involves about 30,000 cows and 20,000 hectares over 25 farms.

“The New Zealand owners of the company had accepted a bid by a majority Australian consortium committed to producing premium branded dairy products. But they’ve been gazumped by a Chinese bulk commodity enterprise and that matter is now before the Victorian Supreme Court.

“A prestigious place of origin food brand, and especially one with associated tourism components, promises to be a much more lucrative operation for Australia than one doing little more than shipping bulk milk or bulk milk powder off to another country.

“Moreover Tasmania’s dairy industry is assessed to be less affected by climate change than in the rest of Australia. So this asset will be even more strategically important to Australia’s dairy food production if it remains in Australian hands.

“We’ve already leased the Darwin defence port to a foreign company and the last thing we should be doing now is selling off the farm as well. If this asset was back in Australian hands the benefits to the economy and the community would be tremendous.

“Ensuring this asset is in Australia’s hands is also a sensible move considering how premium food production for global markets promises to be our next resources boom.

“I call on the Government to intervene and restrict the sale of the Van Diemen’s Land Company to a wholly or at least majority Australian-owned enterprise. This matter must not be left to the Foreign Investment Review Board alone.

“I expect to ask a question about this matter in Question Time today.”


The Independent Member for Denison, Andrew Wilkie, will ask the Prime Minister the following in Question Time today. Please check against delivery.

“Prime Minister, Van Diemen’s Land Company started in 1824; is the largest dairy asset in Australia, owned by New Zealanders and up for sale.

“The owners accepted a bid by a majority Australian consortium committed to producing premium branded dairy products. But they’ve been gazumped by a Chinese bulk commodity enterprise.

“Prime Minister will you intervene to ensure this iconic and economically strategic holding is returned to Australian ownership?”

WHEN: Approximately 2:15pm TODAY 2 December

WHERE: House of Representatives (watch live at http://www.aph.gov.au/News_and_Events/Watch_Parliament)


I am disappointed that the Prime Minister and the Treasurer have refused to intervene in the sale of the Van Diemen’s Land Company to another foreign enterprise.

The New Zealand owners of VDL had accepted a bid by a majority Australian consortium committed to producing premium branded dairy products. But they’ve been gazumped by a Chinese bulk commodity firm.

We’re talking about the largest dairy asset in Australia which, if it was back in Australian hands, would provide enormous benefits to the economy and community. For the Government to wash its hands of the matter and leave it to the Foreign Investment Review Board is a weak position and not in the public interest.

The constant sell-off of Australian assets shows an alarming lack of government understanding of the importance of strategic assets, both military and economic.

To allow a foreign buyer to purchase VDL also shows a worrying government disinterest in Australia’s potential to be a global leader in premium food production. It shows a complete lack of understanding of the public interest as this decision is entirely out of step with what the public want and expect. And it shows a startling disregard for the effects of climate change as Tasmania’s dairy industry is assessed to be less affected by climate change than the rest of Australia.

Some consolation might be drawn, however, from the Treasurer reminding the Parliament that the Government did stop the sale of the Kidman cattle empire to a Chinese buyer. Although this was done on the advice of FIRB, the episode did demonstrate the Government’s preparedness to stop the sale of a strategic agricultural asset to a foreign buyer, at least in some circumstances. We can but hope that common sense prevails in this case too.

Author Credits: [show_post_categories parent="no" parentcategory="writers" show = "category" hyperlink="yes"]


  1. Leonard Colquhoun

    December 7, 2015 at 5:23 pm

    Perhaps evolution by natural selection will ‘address the issue’ of wedgetailed eagles in the usual way?

  2. mike seabrook

    December 7, 2015 at 3:07 pm

    the aboriginals in tassie have never been compensated for the vdl agents/ employees/contractors killing the cape aboriginees and throwing and driving them over the cliffs in response to the traditional aboriginees killing and driving the vdl sheep over the cliffs.

    the vdl company thought that having been given a royal charter company to occupy this non vacant land and do with it as they wished. This is the royal charter company the chinese will be buying – does it have limited liability. – who will be the next governor of the vdl company.

    i am not aware that there has been any complete legal resolution to this.

    this property is jinxed.

    ps the windfarms on this property have and continue to be responsible for the deaths of many wedge tail eagles and tasmania never learns as there is another proposed windfarm down the coast at granville harbour which could prove just as deadly for the wedge tail eagle – what says the libs and the tassie lab-greens

  3. Richard

    December 7, 2015 at 11:55 am

    What a disgrace. What more can our government allow to be sold off to the Chinese and how many Australians are willing to stand by and watch it happen. From our land (ie. our food security), to our homes, our water rights, our electricity network, our resources, even the seats in our schools and universities. They may as well sell off our kids because they are certainly selling off their future.

    The Chinese Communist Party holds on to the land in China and continues to build ghost cities from the limited resources being handed on a plate to them by countries like Australia with short term vision.

    Every Australian should ask themselves what we have really gained from this relationship with China. IMO we are getting s c r e w e d over big time.

  4. mark h

    December 3, 2015 at 4:34 pm

    #8 G’day Karl, no idea what you mean. While I’m here I’ll tell you this – I love our indigenous people. I fully support land hand-backs.
    On a side note – I dig the Chinese and IMO trade has made the world a better place.

  5. Karl Stevens

    December 3, 2015 at 1:07 pm

    Leonard Colquhoun (1) appears to have left Maoist China off his list.
    Why the NeoCon blindspot concerning Maoist China?

  6. Robin Charles Halton

    December 3, 2015 at 11:22 am

    I fully agree with Mr Wilkie, we must not allow the Chinese free range to control our Tasmanian Food Bowl which in fact would be the start of a trend for smaller dairy farmers in the region to cash in and accept Chinese offers.

    This is an ongoing problem as many dairy farmers are getting to old to continue, younger family are not interested and they would sell regardless of who the buyer is.

    Circular Head is the top dairying location in the State and is the lifeline for the local economy.

    There is the potential for the current dairy herd of 18,0000 cows being expanded to 40,000 cows, just imagine if the Chinese pursued these targets, the extra extensive clearing of native vegetation on reasonably flat ground and the environmental disasters with dairy waste that would follow eventually finding its way into the drainage lines and streams.

    The sale to the alien Chinese must be stipped at all costs by the Foreign Investment Review Board and hopefully today’s Court injunction will at least stop the sale to unscrupulous foreign buyers giving Tas Foods the option to go ahead purchase VDL.

    The Greens remain silent over the issue, no protests planned over such a crucial issue which could see huge increases in milk, butter, cheese and yogurt as local supplies are exported at a premium price to the Asian market!

  7. Karl Stevens

    December 3, 2015 at 11:15 am

    mark h (4) seems to have provided a credible explanation of why Aboriginals still own Australia. Thank you mark!

  8. mark h

    December 3, 2015 at 9:45 am

    #5 Sorry, I should make myself clearer and less a smarty pants. Jan all the way for me. I am a big fan. I hope she stands for election sometime soon.

    ABC reporter said China ‘snatched’ this property. It had been on the market for seven years! Simply ABC picking a side and then using BS language.

    Hang in there Mr Wilke, there will be another bandwagon along shortly.

  9. mike seabrook

    December 2, 2015 at 7:39 pm

    why worry

    this vdl property is jinxed

    the british investors lost a fortune over 100 year plus time they predominantly owned and managed the property.

    the kiwis never made any money over this property or the dairy operations the 10 years they owned it

    the chinese investors will be duly screwed in time and will lose the lot on the vdl property and the associated dairy operations

    the more money into tassie the better (to be spent on employment of tasmanians and business activity in tas) and they should be welcomed

    ps. i made money when selling my vdl shares

  10. I Sinic

    December 2, 2015 at 2:30 pm

    Mark, what are you trying to say at #4? That you believe Jan or that you believe Andrew? Personally, I have found Jan’s arguments over the years, including


    to be much more logical and compelling than the populist, xenophobic crap that finds its way into this forum, under the “green” umbrella.

    VDL has been owned by different overseas companies for nearly two centuries but the first we hear “boo” about it’s sale is when there is the prospect of a Chinese buyer. Would we be concerned if it was a Canadian, US or UK buyer?

    Do you hear the subliminal racists out there complaining when it is Australian companies buying up mines around the world and deriving super profits from them? No, of course not. Its a giant double standard and if BHP, RIO etc weren’t doing it, we would not be able to afford our current standard of living or generous social services.

    Australia and particularly Tasmania needs foreign; and Chinese investment in particular. Its a global economy out there!

  11. mark h

    December 2, 2015 at 1:04 pm

    ‘Realistically, there are few grounds for concern about who owns Australian farms. The land can’t be dug up and taken away. All production methods and processes must comply with Australian laws. Farmers can choose to sell their products to whomever they please – generally the highest bidder.’ (Jan Davis)

    Who should I listen to on this issue, Jan Davis or Andrew Wilke? Haha just kidding.

  12. DWren

    December 1, 2015 at 7:03 pm

    Tasmanian land should stay with Tasmanians/Australians. Given the history of this land, it shouldn’t be bought out by another foreign interest. Look to Point Reyes in California as an example of how historic dairy farming can continue in a combined-use setting that benefits many interests: history; dairy farming; preservation; public use. Don’t let a foreign entity snap up this land for short-term gain.

  13. john hayward

    December 1, 2015 at 5:37 pm

    The relative weight of the public interest or national sovereignty issues as against the Libs’ neocon principles may possibly be inferred from Turnbull’s recent announcement that Australia’s climate change position in Paris will depend on “economic pragmatism”.

    Now work out the likely neocon perspective of someone with most of his $157m stash in overseas tax havens.

    John Hayward

  14. Leonard Colquhoun

    December 1, 2015 at 3:48 pm

    If “Don’t sell off the farm” is meant as a default in-principle policy to be followed 99.9% of the time, then it is limitless in its stupidity. (As most such inflexibly dogmatic policies are.) In economic terms, it is called ‘autarky’ – and no nation or people became prosperous under it, if these recent attempts are anything to go by:

    ~ Maoist Albania;

    ~ isolationist Burma;

    ~ Khmer Rouge Cambodia;

    ~ Team Kim’s North Korea;

    ~ Ceaucescu’s Romania;

    ~ apartheid South Africa; and even the

    ~ USA, under a rare lapse into irrationality by Thomas Jefferson, during an embargo of international shipping from Dec 1807 to Mar 1809.

    Ask MHR Wilkie whether he’d join this club.

    And, what’s more, it is stunningly hypocritical – UNLESS complemented by an equally dogmatic policy of outlawing our citizens, individually or in groups, from buying up other nations’ “farms”. Basic ‘goose’ and ‘gander’ stuff, really.

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