Sale. Community sentiment is running high over a recent bid for Van Diemen’s Land Company (VDL), according to the Circular Head Progress Group.
Australian businesswoman Jan Cameron has offered to match the bid put forth by Moon Lake Investments, owned by Chinese businessman Lu Xianfeng.
Moon Lake Investments is looking to acquire all the Tasmanian dairy assets held by Tasmanian Land Company and its related entities, including VDL.
The binding offer currently awaits approval from the Foreign Investment Review Board.
Circular Head Progress Group chairman John McNab has vocalised his opinion on Ms Cameron’s desire to purchase the company, saying the group speaks on behalf of the community in saying it is not welcome.
In a release sent out to media outlets across the state, Mr McNab said the group will not be welcoming Jan Cameron’s investment into the municipality.
“It would be remiss of the Circular Head Progress Group not to inform banks and other potential investors that there would be a community backlash against anyone involving themselves with her bid to purchase VDL,” he said.
“Her involvement in the demise of the timber communities of the south east is still fresh in the minds of locals here and many fear she may do the same to dairying.”
Mr McNab said Ms Cameron’s work as an animal activist in her ‘dob on a farmer’ campaign “may now come back to haunt her”, referring to a fund set up to pay workers who report businesses where animal cruelty occurs.
“Ms Cameron is using independent senators to drum up support for her bid but the real support she needs to make this bid successful should come from the local community of Circular Head and this she does not have, nor in our view, will she ever have,” Mr McNab said.
“Banks and other potential investors have now been warned and to disregard the community’s feelings on this may be at their own peril.”
Circular Head Mayor Daryl Quilliam said Circular Head Council remained supportive of Moon Lake Investments’ purchase of VDL following news of the rival bid.
“I have met with Mr Lu Xianfeng of Moon Lake Investments and am extremely confident and supportive of his investment in VDL,” Cr Quilliam said.
“Considering Mr Lu intends to keep the management and operation of farm as is, we are confident that the Circular Head community also backs his investment in the property.
“Council is also reassured that Moon Lake Investments will be making offers of employment to all existing employees if the purchase is successful.”
Ms Cameron, who was the founder of retail store Kathmandu and now lives in Tasmania, has launched a website urging others to support her in saying ‘no to selling Australasia’s biggest dairy farm to foreign investors’.
According to her ‘Save the Farm’ website, the campaign is one “to bring this iconic piece of prime Tasmanian agricultural farming land into Australian ownership”.
“In the right hands, Van Diemen’s Land Dairy will be an innovative world leader in dairy production, land management and habitat protection,” the website reads.
“As well as being Australia’s largest dairy farm, half of the property is native vegetation and is one of the last refuges for a disease free population of the endangered Tasmanian Devil.
“This an opportunity to invest in Tasmania’s clean, green economy and create boutique value added dairy products Australia can be proud of and Tasmania can prosper from.”