News Release - October 25, 2010
FEDERAL GOVERNMENT SHOULD HEED WORDS OF FORMER BHP BILLITON CHAIR, WHO VIEWS CANADA AS A "BRANCH OFFICE”
Premier Brad Wall today said the federal government should pay close attention to the words of former BHP Billiton Chair Don Argus, who warned that too much foreign control of resources in his home country of Australia would turn Australia into a "branch office - just like Canada."
"If we fail to remain competitive, Australia will incur a substantial opportunity cost and, in the worst-case scenario, our resources will fall into overseas hands and we will become a branch office - just like Canada," Argus is quoted as saying in the July 21, 2008 Hellenic Shipping News.
In the May 22, 2009, edition of the Melbourne Herald Sun, Argus further cautioned that "Australia risked hollowing out its key industry (mining) though allowing too much offshore control of its major assets, just as Canada had done in recent years," and that "Canada had forfeited its resources sector, much to detriment of the country."
Argus was still the Chair of BHP Billiton at the time that he made these comments.
Wall said he takes strong exception to BHP Billiton viewing Canada as a "branch office."
"But it's up to our federal government to ensure we retain Canadian control of our natural resources and that we don't become a ‘branch office,' like BHP apparently sees us," Wall said.
"Mr. Argus' words and BHP Billiton's apparent view of Canada should give the federal government plenty of pause as it considers its response to the largest foreign takeover in Canadian history. If Australian business leaders like Mr. Argus are concerned about ceding too much control of Australia's natural resources to foreign control, shouldn't our government feel that same concern about Canada's resources?"
The Saskatchewan government has recommended that BHP Billiton's proposed takeover of PotashCorp does not provide a net benefit to Canada and Saskatchewan and that it should not be approved.
"We will be speaking with the federal government about our position in the days ahead and we expect them to follow our recommendation," Wall said.
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