The Prime Minister Tony Abbott has this morning announced that rules surrounding foreign purchases of agricultural land will be tightened.
In a joint press statement with agriculture minister Barnaby Joyce and treasurer Joe Hockey, Mr Abbott said the move delivers on a committment given by the Coalition to the Australian people at the last election.
He says 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 the nation’s benefit.
To improve the scrutiny of foreign purchases of agricultural land the Government will reduce the screening threshold from $252 million to $15 million from 1 March 2015.
The new $15 million screening threshold will apply to the cumulative value of agricultural land owned by the foreign investor, including the purposed purchase.
The Government will also establish a foreign ownership register of agricultural land to strengthen reporting requirements and provide a clear picture of foreign investment in Australia’s agricultural sector.
From 1 July 2015 the Australian Tax Office (ATO) will start collecting information on all new foreign investment in agricultural land regardless of value.
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.
These measures are a significant step in protecting Australia’s national interests and in giving the community greater confidence in our foreign investment regime.
The Government is currently considering the recommendations of the Parliamentary Committee inquiry led by Kelly O’Dwyer MP regarding foreign investment in residential real estate. There does need to be better enforcement of the rules for foreign purchases of existing homes so that young people are not priced out of the market.
The Government will announce details of the reforms to foreign investment in residential real estate in coming weeks.
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.
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