24 October 2012
The Gillard Government will implement a national foreign ownership register for agricultural land following detailed consultations with stakeholders.
The national foreign ownership register for agricultural land will provide the community with a more comprehensive picture of the specific size and location of foreign agricultural landholdings over and above what is currently available.
Foreign investment has helped build Australian agriculture over the last two hundred years and it is important for the future growth and prosperity of our farming sector.
But the Government also understands the need for more and better information on foreign investment in agricultural land.
Data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) released last year suggests that Australia’s agricultural industry is mostly Australian owned. It found that around 89 per cent of Australian agricultural land is entirely Australian owned and a further 6 per cent of Australian agricultural land is majority owned by Australians. These figures are broadly in line with levels of foreign ownership from around thirty years ago.
However, comprehensive information about foreign investment in Australian agricultural land is limited.
The Government established a working group on a foreign ownership register for agricultural land in June and a consultation paper will soon be released by the working group, which is being chaired by the Treasury and comprises a range of Australian Government agencies.
As part of the consultation process, the group will also be working with State and Territory governments to discuss existing land registration systems and processes when considering elements of a national register.
The Gillard Government continues to maintain an open and welcoming approach to foreign investment.
The final design of the register will take into account the need to improve transparency of foreign ownership in agriculture without imposing unnecessary burdens on investors or duplicating work already undertaken by State and Territory governments.
A national foreign ownership register for agricultural land continues the Gillard Government’s work to improve transparency in foreign ownership of Australian agricultural land.
In January, the Government announced funding for an ongoing ABS survey, following an Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES) study into foreign investment in agriculture.
The Government has also released guidance on the factors considered when assessing foreign investment applications in the agriculture sector.