Pic source: econews.com.au
Victorians will welcome the passage of legislation in parliament this week that will ensure a better oversight of foreign purchases of agricultural land.
It formalises a new register of foreign ownership of agricultural land, and lowers the screening thresholds for foreign purchases of agricultural land and agribusiness by private investors from $252 million to $15 million (cumulative) and $55 million respectively.
While foreign investment and its benefits are welcome, the legislation ensures greater scrutiny when analysing a proposal to ensure it's in the national interest, which the Australian people expect. The establishment of the register will provide clear and accurate information on who owns what.
As well, there'll be a register for water entitlements to give greater clarity on the level of foreign ownership of another of our precious natural resources; stricter penalties for foreign investors who breach the rules; and application fees so taxpayers are no longer funding the administration of the system.
I know, from my travels across the state, that people are concerned about foreign acquisitions and what the implications are. We need to ensure that significant foreign investment in Victoria has the potential to benefit regional economies and is in Australia’s best interests.
With profitable and productive agricultural assets around the world becoming harder to find, we don’t want our businesses and communities to miss out on the massive opportunities that the future growth in food and fibre demand will deliver.
The changes will help ensure this and are another key Liberal-National election commitment delivered. For further details, visit http://www.firb.gov.au/content/default.asp
Senator Bridget McKenzie
Nationals Senator for Victoria