For Sale signs nailed to our Aussie icons

When did it become OK to sell off the family jewels?

The Daily Telegraph | November 23, 2009

By Tracey Spicer

AMERICAN tour guide, Far North Queensland, circa 2020: "Well, folks, welcome to the Great Barrier McReef! Over there you can see Woodrow Wilson Island, named after our late president.

Hey, any of you been to Nike Air's Rock yet? Used to be called Uluru but that's a bit hard for us to pronounce! Seems some folks back home liked these Aussie tourist attractions so much, they bought the companies! Anyone for a Bud?"

Welcome to the brave new world of McTourism. While we've been looking over our shoulders at interlopers on leaky boats, an American conglomerate has bought five of our iconic tourist destinations.

Delaware North now owns three islands in the World Heritage listed Great Barrier Reef - Wilson, Lizard and Heron.

But wait, there's more.

The hospitality and food giant has also gobbled up Kings Canyon Resort in Watarrka National Park, midway between Uluru and Alice Springs.

And the ink is almost dry on the contract to buy El Questro Wilderness Park & Homestead on one million acres - yes, you read that right - in WA's remote Kimberley.

You'd know this property from the famous cattle-driving scenes in the movie Australia.

Whoever said irony was dead?

Oh - and guess what else is up for grabs?

Australia's biggest property trust GPT says it wants to offload the remainder of the Voyages portfolio, including Ayers Rock Resort, Longitude 131 and Brampton Island.

Now, I'm not implying that Delaware North is incapable of protecting our pristine assets. And I'm not implying that it fails to understand the Australian market.

Delaware North has a 20-year history Down Under.

Furthermore, I'm not implying that Delaware North has nefarious intentions.

But when did it become OK to sell off the family jewels?

Since the free trade agreement was signed in 2005, the US has been able to invest up to $1 billion at a time without seeking approval.

China has asked for the same deal, during its free trade negotiations.

At the same time, foreign companies are covertly buying up adjacent farms in Australia to use as a "salad bowl" in the case of global food shortages.

Saudi Arabia, Abu Dhabi and Kuwait want to purchase more than $1 billion worth of our farmland to feed their own people.

It all smacks of a neo-colonialism. And Australia is ripe for the picking.

We're like eager puppies, rolling over and begging for a belly scratch from our benevolent masters.

Who has beetroot on their hamburgers anymore? Why not grab a Big Mac!

Our mates, male and female, are referred to as "guys".

Rather than G'Day, we greet each other with "hey", straight from a Seinfeld episode.

This might seem inconsequential. Xenophobic, even. But cultural genocide is the death of a thousand cuts.

I can accept the American influence in film, music, sport, literature and language.

What I can't accept is the loss of what makes this place special - the coral cays of the Great Barrier Reef; the red rawness of the Kimberley; the land of the Never Never.

Could you imagine the US Government agreeing to such a thing?

The Grand Aussie Canyon.

The Statue of Liberty, holding aloft a meat pie. Snags at the Smithsonian.

It would never happen.

Delaware North says the purchase of its reef and wilderness properties is part of an overt strategy to move into hotels and resorts in Australia. It makes you wonder what's next.

Who's involved?

Whos Involved?

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