Australian mining magnate Clive Palmer has denounced the policies of the Financial Investment Review Board (FIRB), labelling them ‘racist’ after recent suggestions that the regulator will look to cap foreign investment in mining companies at 15%.
Speaking at a business lunch in Brisbane yesterday, Palmer said that foreign investors, in particular the Chinese and their estimated $1.8 trillion cash reserve, should not be discriminated against.
“We have the opportunity to grab that investment if our politicians could only be fair and treat the Chinese people and the Chinese Government with the dignity they deserve,” he said.
“I think it is one of the worst things that can happen to Australia to extend our racist policies into Asia.”
Palmer’s comments come after FIRB executive director Patrick Colmer last week told an Australia-China investment forum that the Federal Government was more comfortable with limiting State-owned company’s investment to less than 50% in greenfield projects and to 15% in mining companies.
Last week saw the collapse of a $500 million investment deal between China Nonferrous Metal Mining and rare earths miner Lynas Corporation after FIRB called for a number of changes to the conditions of the agreement, including reducing China Nonferrous’ stake to less than 50%.
Lynas has since pursued a rights issue to raise the capital it would have received from the deal.
Palmer said an exemption policy that allows US investors to invest up to $953 million in Australian companies without the need for investment approval is an example of the discriminatory FIRB policies.
“Why should the average American, regardless of education or qualifications, have the right to invest $950 million in Australia, but the average Chinese person, regardless of how much money he has, not allowed to invest without our Treasurer saying so?” he said.