Corrs Chambers Westgarth Corporate Advisory partner Andrew Lumsden spoke at the ‘Public Forum: Question on China’s Global Investment Conference’ at the Australian National University this week.

Andrew and others including Terence McNamee, Deputy Director of the Brenthurst Foundation, spoke at a session hosted by The Australian Financial Review’s editor-in-chief Michael Stutchbury. The session focused on foreign investment trends, including Chinese overseas foreign direct investment.

Andrew spoke about the FIRB and the use of the national interest test. The test, which was introduced in 1986, serves a valuable function for the Government as a macroeconomic regulator of the economy and was intended to reflect a changed bias towards foreign investment.

Andrew said, “The national interest test has always been an opaque standard and has served Australia well.”

“Australia’s investment policy is decidedly pro-investment and the Government rarely invokes the national interest test to reject foreign investments.”

“The Government should retain the flexibility to deal with the consequences or externalities that may arise from a foreign takeover. There is great merit in increased transparency around the process – particular where the Treasurer finds a proposal not to be in the national interest. – so that detailed decisions are available for others to review.”

Dr Ken Henry, chair of ‘Australia in the Asian Century’, and Dr Martin Parkinson, Treasury Chief, also spoke at the conference regarding foreign investment policy and what should be done to alleviate public concern about the growth of Chinese investment.

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