Concerns for milk supply after our Van Diemen’s Land Company sold to China business interests
by Nick Tabakoff
THERE’S fresh calls for closer scrutiny of “who owns what” amid concerns baby formula and dairy product prices could soar after Treasurer Scott Morrison rubber-stamped the sale of Australia’s biggest dairy farm to Chinese business interests.
Mr Morrison yesterday ruled the $280 million acquisition of northwest Tasmania’s 17,800ha Van Diemen’s Land Company by Chinese billionaire Lu Xianfeng’s Moon Lake Investments could go ahead after consulting the Foreign Investment Review Board.
But some of the nation’s top business and political leaders have warned the purchase could weaken the local market, with the farm’s supply instead used to meet the huge demand for baby formula in China.
In recent months, Australian supermarket shelves have been stripped of baby formula, dubbed “white gold” in China, as millions of tins have been shipped there at a much higher price. Milk is an essential ingredient of formula.
One of Australia’s most successful businesswomen, Kathmandu founder Jan Cameron, said the decision could come back to haunt Mr Morrison.
Ms Cameron was keen to purchase VDL, which is being sold by New Zealand’s New Pymouth District Council, and has always been foreign-owned since it was established 190 years ago.