The atmosphere was electric and tensions ran high as the contentious and timely topic of foreign investment in Australian agriculture took centre stage at the 2014 AUSVEG Great Debate today, held as part of the 2014 AUSVEG National Convention at the Cairns Convention Centre.

“With foreign investment currently one of the most controversial issues in Australian agriculture, this year’s event thrilled audiences by stirring debate from across both schools of thought,” said AUSVEG public Affairs Manager, William Churchill.

AUSVEG is the leading horticultural body representing Australia’s 9,000 vegetable and potato growers.

Liberal Democratic Party Senator-elect, Mr David Leyonhjelm, and John Corbett – Managing Director, FT consulting, presented their case for foreign investment. Manager and Joint Proprietor of Cambinata Yabbies, Ms Mary Nenke, and Senior Lecturer at QUT Business School, Economics and Finance, Dr Mark McGovern, spoke for the opposition.

President of the National Press Club of Australia, Mr Laurie Wilson, mediated the highly-charged session.

“These four speakers were carefully selected to provide attendees with a diverse range of views on foreign investment,” said Mr Churchill.

The Federal Parliamentary Library published a research report on foreign investment in agriculture earlier this year, with findings demonstrating the industry’s wide and often disparate views on the matter. Some perceive foreign investment with apprehension, while others say it will allow the industry to thrive and survive.

According to the report, foreign investment in agriculture was valued at $3.6 billion in 2011-12.

“AUSVEG thanks this year’s participants in what was certainly an emotive debate on agriculture’s most controversial issue,” said Mr Churchill.

The 2014 Great Debate was proudly sponsored by Haifa. Haifa Australia is a leading supplier of water soluble fertilisers to the Australian market.

The AUSVEG National Convention, Trade Show and Awards for Excellence is the biggest event in Australian horticulture, with over 1,000 delegates attending this year’s event in Cairns.

For photos of speakers, please contact the AUSVEG media contact below.

MEDIA CONTACT: William Churchill, AUSVEG Communications and Public Affairs Manager. Phone: (03) 9882 0277, Mobile: 0411 166 748, Email: