Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce has accused the Labor party of “communism” in a speech at the National Farmers’ Federation Congress in Canberra.
Joyce said foreign ownership was a threat to patriotism, and that Labor’s policies, including native vegetation management, would result in “dispossession” and therefore communism.
“I thought about how Labor dispossess people of their private assets with tree-clearing guidelines – ‘vegetation management’ as it’s euphemistically called,” Joyce said.
“This essentially took away ownership from private individuals and gave it to the community. The dispossession of the individual for the community benefit, without the community paying for it.
“While I was marking my 184th lamb that I’d just picked up, I thought, ‘there’s a word for this — it’s called communism’.”
Joyce closed his speech by repeating his statement on opposing foreign ownership of agricultural land. “It’s the whole essence of patriotism, the love of one’s country is best delivered when you own that country,” Joyce said.
“The love of one’s country is best delivered when you own that country. I may like your car but I love mine. Likewise, I find your house very interesting but I want to go home to mine … And believe me, there’s one thing that people are not keen to do and that is die for a rented country.”
When asked whether his speech was too harsh given the presence of Chinese ambassador Cheng Jingye in the congress, Joyce told ABC, “China more than anybody is moving towards a market economy. Ever since (former leader) Deng Xiaoping decided that was the direction they should go, they’ve been exceptionally good at it and private ownership fundamentally underpins your attachment to an asset.
“I love the fact that if my daughters want to, they can go on to the farm that I bought – that’s my aspiration, that’s what makes Australia a great place, and it does build up this idea of patriotism – the love of the earth that you stand on because your indelible connection to it and I’m sure a lot of indigenous Australians would agree with me as well.”
Labor’s Shadow Minister for Agriculture, Joel Fitzgibbon said Joyce’s populist statement on foreign ownership “is a zero sum game”.
“Overcoming those challenges and capitalizing on the opportunities will take new thinking, hard work and co-operation,” Fitzgibbon said.
“And it will require all of us to spend more time talking in positive rather than in negative tones.”