Rockhampton-based Senator Matt Canavan has welcomed the increased scrutiny and reporting of foreign purchases of agricultural land announced today by the Commonwealth Government.
“The Government will continue to welcome foreign investment but the community must have confidence that this investment is coming in on our terms and for our nation’s benefit,” Senator Canavan said.
“The measures announced today are a significant step in protecting Australia’s national interests and in giving the community greater confidence in our foreign investment regime, and deliver on a commitment made at the last election.”
The new measures were announced in a joint statement by Prime Minister Tony Abbott, Treasurer Joe Hockey and Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce.
The measures include:
- reducing the screening threshold from $252 million to $15 million from 1 March 2015; and
- establishing a foreign ownership register of agricultural land to strengthen reporting requirements and provide a clear picture of foreign investment in Australia’s agricultural sector.
Senator Canavan said the new $15 million screening threshold will apply to the cumulative value of agricultural land owned by the foreign investor.
“From 1 July 2015, the Australian Tax Office (ATO) will start collecting information on all new foreign investment in agricultural land regardless of value,” he said. “The ATO will also commence a stocktake of existing agricultural land ownership by foreign interests.
“The Government will continue to work with state and territory governments so that the ATO register will use land title transfer information.
“Foreign investment always has, and will continue to be, integral to Australia’s economic success. Under this Government, Australia is again open for business, as demonstrated by our landmark Free Trade Agreements with China, Japan and Korea.”
Senator Canavan added that the Government will announce details of the reforms to foreign investment in residential real estate in coming weeks.