Comments from the Finance Minister Chatib Basri and Deputy Trade Minister Bayu Krisnamurthi indicate large parcels of Australian land may play a crucial role in the security of Indonesia’s beef supply.
But the comments will aggravate rifts in Canberra on the issue, after the original Indonesian cabinet proposal to buy between 1 million and 1.5 million hectares of land in Australia‘s north prompted a strong reaction from Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce.
After the election but before he was sworn in as minister, Mr Joyce said: ”I cannot possibly see how it is in the national interest.” The Greens have also expressed their opposition, though Mr Joyce has since muted his own criticisms and Treasurer Joe Hockey has taken a benign approach to the issue.
Mr Bayu could not say on Tuesday how much land might ultimately be needed to feed Indonesian needs but Mr Basri agreed to the suggestion that 1.5 million hectares may not be enough.
Raising cattle for a nation of 240 million requires ”a huge area of land”, he said.
Mr Basri, who met Mr Hockey last week, said on Tuesday the purchase of foreign land to be operated by Indonesian government companies and the produce then exported to Indonesia was ”the way we look at self-sufficiency in the modern era”.
China did it for energy supplies and Malaysia used Indonesian land to grow palm oil, he said.
”You’re no longer protectionist but part of the global supply chain, part of the production network,” he said.
On Tuesday, Mr Bayu said the potential land purchase was one of several measures discussed in the Indonesian cabinet in a bid to assure security of supply after disruptions such as the 2011 Australian ban on live cattle exports followed by the first draft of the disastrous Indonesian ”self-sufficiency” policy, which included strict import quotas.
Mr Bayu said another option to secure supply was for Indonesia to change the law that prohibited beef imports from countries with foot and mouth disease, such as Brazil.Source: Brisbane Times – Indonesian land buy may go over 1.5m hectares
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