- Govt backs down on pledge to reveal all in foreign-owned land register
- Well-established leucaena features on Wandoan aggregation
- Foreign investment in Aussie ag companies strong despite complex regulations
- Australian Pastoral Group’s showcase Qld, NSW offerings
- Deltroit will set local Wagga benchmark
Govt backs down on pledge to reveal all in foreign-owned land register
THE Federal Government’s new national register of foreign owned agricultural land will not be made public, despite its earlier promise to provide more transparency over foreign investment in Australian farms.
The long-awaited register was established by the Coalition last year to allay concerns within the Australian community that the Government should have more oversight and information in relation to foreign ownership.
It requires all foreign owners of Australian farmland to be registered with the Australian Tax Office, and any new interests to be registered within 30 days of purchase.
Last September, Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce told the Parliament the register would be like a map of all properties “to see who owns what.”
The National Farmers Federation had expected the information it contained to be publicly available but as ABC reported yesterday, the ATO now says it will only release summaries occasionally, with its first report to the Government due in July.
A spokesperson for the ATO said the organisation would be breaking tax laws if it published the entire register. “Due to confidentiality provisions in the tax act, the ATO is unable to comment on any individual’s or entity’s tax affairs,” the spokesperson told the ABC.
“This includes providing any detailed breakdown of interest in agricultural land, where a taxpayer may be identified, or their information made public.”
New South Wales Liberal senator Bill Heffernan said he was lobbying the Federal Treasurer to make the register public.
“This is an over-my-dead-body issue. We’re entitled to know who in God’s name is through the fence. And if the proposition from the tax office is that we’re not entitled to know who our neighbour is, then as far as I’m concerned, the Government’s going to have to change it,” Sen Hefernan said.
The NFF lobbied strongly for tougher scrutiny of foreign ownership and previously warned the Government it did not want to see “aggregation” in the register’s design.
“We know that there is business sensitivity around commercial investment so we wouldn’t want to compromise any of that, but the whole point of the register was to inform the debate,” NFF chief executive Tony Mahar said. “If there’s aggregated data and it’s in a form that shows us what is happening, in regard to this issue, and allows a much more informed debate, then we’ll be happy.
“But if it’s aggregated data that actually doesn’t inform the debate and doesn’t allow an understanding of what’s happening, then we’d have some concerns.”
Well-established leucaena features on Wandoan Coolibah aggregation
Central Queensland cattle finishing country featuring large stands of the drought-resistant browse legume, leucaena, rarely come on the market – so property market observers will be keen to gauge the fortunes of blue-ribbon Wandoan cattle property Coolibah.
Brian and Dianne Conway have decided to sell their holdings, an aggregation of five freehold blocks totalling 2800ha by auction in May. The Conway’s have developed the properties over the past 29 years of ownership, with a key feature being 1620ha of well-established leucaena.
Coolibah is well located with access to processing plants, feedlots and major selling centres with Roma only 200km away. Water is a feature with one sub-artesian bore watering the entire aggregation from a centrally-located turkeys nest. The water then gravity feeds through a water medication system to the entire aggregation via 50mm poly pipe. The property is subdivided into 27 main paddocks and four holding paddocks plus an extensive laneway system connecting every paddock to one main set of steel cattle yards, equipped with a loading ramp, four-way draft, hydraulically operated vet crush set on concrete base and besser block dip with draining pens.
- Auction: Friday 13 May in Brisbane.
- Selling agents: Bruce Douglas 0417 602 603 Ray White Rural or David McPaul 0428 721 914 Landmark Harcourts.
Foreign investment in Aussie agricultural companies strong despite complex regulations
Agribusiness is the ‘emerging hot sector’ for private merger and acquisition activity in Australia, according to a recently released report from law firm King and Wood Mallesons.
The firm’s fifth annual DealTrends report revealed that, for deals it advised on, agribusiness accounted for just 4pc by turnover in 2014, but rose strongly to 15pc in 2015.
Using data from the Hong Kong headquartered firm, the report showed that 40pc of Australia’s mergers and acquisitions activity occurred in the industrial, consumer and health sectors.
M&A activity globally had been climbing in value, and the report shows that has flowed through to Australia. A weaker currency against the US dollar is making Australian investments even more attractive, the report said.
Overseas investors have not been deterred by moves to lower the value of deals that trigger a review by the Foreign Investment Review Board, nor its opaque and lengthy review process.
“Obviously the government has said that they’re not adverse to foreign investment; they’re very clear on that,” the company’s mergers and acquisitions partner and co-head of the firm’s food and agribusiness practice, Meredith Paynter, said.
“However, there is an education process one needs to undertake. Fundamentally, the drivers for investment in Australian business are very strong and favourable and we would expect that growth to continue.”
Ms Paynter said Australia had a strong and positive track record of approving foreign investment, with just a few well-publicised exceptions.
In the past, public debate about foreign ownership of Australian agricultural assets had flared up, but Ms Paynter said many foreign investors were easily assured that their investments were welcome. Europe and the US have traditionally accounted for the majority of international agribusiness M&A activity, but they are now being overtaken by Asian investors.
“There’s been strong investment from Japan and Korea, and increasingly Chinese and other Asian investors are looking carefully at food and agribusiness opportunities,” Ms Paynter said.
“We would expect, given the broader demographic and economic trends, that we will continue to see strong interest and investment from China and other Asian markets.”
Australian Pastoral Group’s showcase Qld, NSW offerings
The Australian Pastoral Group has confirmed the sale of its three prominent Queensland and NSW grazing properties, first flagged in this column last week.
The company on Thursday issued a statement confirming that in response to substantial interest and widespread purchase enquiries, APF Management had agreed, on behalf of the unitholders in this Fund, to offer the assets for sale.
The holdings on offer include:
- the highly regarded 2545ha Deltroit station in the Wagga-Gundagai district of southern NSW (Agent: Inglis and Co, NSW – Jamie Inglis and Sam Triggs – see further details below.)
- the productive 6000ha aggregation of Kinbeachie, Tegege and Birribindibil, at Toobeah, west of Goondiwindi in southern Qld (Agent: Leonard and Co/Raine and Horne, Goondiwindi – Henry Leonard), and
- Neumayer Valley, a safe and well respected cattle breeding station of 143,000ha between Burketown and Normanton in far north Qld. Neumayer Valley is bisected by the Alexandra River, has the Leichardt River as a large part of its western boundary, and carries a recognised, high quality Brahman breeding herd. (Agent: Elders, QLD – Dick Allpass).
The three stations have been successfully operated on a fully integrated basis since acquisition, however, each property is now being offered individually, or the group as a whole, for open competition, APFM chairman Alan Hayes said.
Deltroit will set local benchmark
The offering of APFM’s Deltroit Station will help set a property market benchmark for large scale, grazing/cropping operations in the Wagga/Gundagain region.
Located 33km south of Gundagai, it is widely regarded as one of the leading pastoral holdings on the south west slopes of NSW, offering beef, sheep and cropping potential in a reliable rainfall region.
The stately federation homestead built around 1903 is one of the most beautiful in the region and its gardens and outbuildings are supported by prime country that sets the property apart as a unique and much admired asset. Many original architectural features include marble fireplaces, a large central hallway, formal entrance, billiard room, study, and wide verandahs. There are five bedrooms, three bathrooms and a large open plan kitchen/living area. Complementing the homestead are the surrounding parklike gardens and ornamental lake.
Historically it has been held by several of Australia’s progressive agricultural groups and pastoral families including the Richardson family (more than 100 years), followed by the King Ranch Group principal Robert Kleberg (US), along with the Barr-Smith, Finemore and Crichton-Brown families.
Deltroit has served as the headquarters for Australian Pastoral Group (APG). As its most southerly holding, it plays an important strategic role allowing the company to reduce risk through climatic diversification whilst gaining exposure to southern beef markets.
Production records indicate the property can stock in the vicinity of 4,500 cattle.
For sale: Expressions of interest, closing 19 May. Plant, machinery and livestock will be available as separate modules to the successful purchaser. Contact Sam Triggs: 0410 683 891 T: (02) 9398 7975 email@example.com