FOREIGN INVESTMENT & OWNERSHIP


THE ISSUE


THE Key policy document

Australia's Foreign Investment Policy (2015)

"Privately-owned foreign investors[1] must seek prior approval for a proposed acquisition of an interest in rural land where the cumulative value of rural land that the foreign person (and any associates) already holds exceeds, or immediately following the proposed acquisition is likely to exceed, $15 million."

[1] With the exception of Chile, New Zealand and United States investors ($1, 094 million); and, Singapore and Thailand investors ($50 million). 

  • The Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB) is the non-statutory body that examines proposals, and advises Government, on relating to foreign investment in Australia.
  • This threshold was reduced from $252 million (effective March 1, 2015)
  • In addition, a foreign ownership registeof agricultural land will be established
  • The ATO will begin to collect information (from July 1, 2015) on all new foreign investment in agricultural land (regardless of value), as well as a stocktake of existing ownership details.

"Australia’s foreign investment review framework strikes a balance between attracting foreign investment into Australia to support our economy, and ensuring that investments are not contrary to the national interest."

  • National interest considerations include: national security, competition, other policies (inc. tax), impact on the economy and community, character of the investor.


THE COMMENTARY

SNAPSHOT

ARTICLES


KEY QUESTIONS

  1. What is the extent of foreign ownership at the moment? How has this changed over the last hundred years?
  2. How important is foreign investment for the growth of the national economy moving forward?
  3. Where can the 'investment gap' be sourced from if not from overseas?
  4. Can we expect foreign investment without offering ownership options?
  5. What are the opportunities associated with selling rural land to overseas investors?
  6. What are the challenges associated with selling rural land to overseas investors?
  7. Are there any other policy responses Government should consider in addition to reducing the investment threshold?
  8. Do stronger measures need to be applied to protect our domestic food security?
  9. Do you believe a different set of rules should be applied to agricultural lands, compared to infrastructure, agribusinesses, supply chains, and water?
  10. Is the FIRB and Treasury the best decision-making body to be deciding on matters of agricultural investment?
  11. Should we be looking at the suite of business models — including private equity, institutional investment and foreign investment — to better inform such discussions? 

Discuss these questions with others on The Farm Table, or add your own question, at the Farmer Forum.

OTHER POLICY DOCUMENTS & KEY RESEARCH

Coalition's Discussion Paper on Foreign Investment in Australia (2012)

Coalition's Discussion Paper on Foreign Investment in Australia (2012)

Commonwealth Parliamentary Library, Research paper on foreign investment in Australian agriculture (2014)

Commonwealth Parliamentary Library, Research paper on foreign investment in Australian agriculture (2014)


A different policy stance once moving away from production land?

Investment opportunities in Australian agribusiness and food, AUSTRADE (2014)

Investment opportunities in Australian agribusiness and food, AUSTRADE (2014)

Foreign Investment and Australian agriculture, ABARES & RIRDC (2011)

Foreign Investment and Australian agriculture, ABARES & RIRDC (2011)