The government could have handled the situation better by insisting on the block's break-up before sale, Bath pointed out.
Presently, Anna Creek is excluded from the Hancock-CRED offer, but it is included under BBHO's proposal.
Kidman is particularly sensitive for the government because it represents the largest holding of agricultural land held by a single owner in Australia, Bath explained. "An acquisition by a foreign investor of this amount of land would be a sensitive issue in any country, not just Australia."
Speculation is also high that Australian lawmakers are afraid Beijing will use Australian land assets to profit from Asia's growing food demand.
Australia has no difficulty financing its current account deficit, so it can afford to balance national interest concerns against the case for a free market, Shane Oliver, chief economist at AMP Capital, said.
Experts widely agreed, however, that Canberra should release clearly worded legislation on foreign ownership of nationally-sensitive assets in order to avoid confusion over deals.
"We need a clear political approach, not just an ad hoc determination," flagged Bath. In a more dire warning, former Foreign Minister Gareth Evans said in August that clear ground rules for foreign infrastructure investments must be introduced, or Canberra risked "a great deal of damage."
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