Quarter of NT pastoral land now foreign owned

Beef Central, 16/09/2015

Tanumbirini was purchased by UK based Thames Pastoral Company in 2012.

An analysis of pastoral land ownership in the Northern Territory has underlined the growing footprint of foreign investment in the region.

Research by ABC reported today indicates that a quarter of Northern Territory pastoral lease land is now wholly or partly owned by foreign entities.

The ABC analysis found:

  • Of the 223 pastoral leases, there are now 47 which have some form of foreign ownership, covering a land mass of 149,702 km2.
  • That equates to 25.1 per cent of the 596,310 km2 pastoral estate, which is 44 per cent of the Northern Territory’s total land mass.
  • NT Department of Land Resource Management (DLRM) figures show comparable foreign ownership levels. Its records suggest that 24.3pc the NT pastoral estate has some degree of foreign ownership. The ABC said its research identified one NZ owned lease not included in the DLRM’s calculations.

Recent NT land sales to foreign entities have included:

  • Wollogorang – TGB Agri Holdings, China -July 2015
  • Bunda – Consolidated Pastoral Company, United Kingdom (various) – February 2015
  • Elizabeth Downs – Sichuan Yin Xiang, China – September 2014
  • Willeroo – Great Giant Livestock, Indonesia – April 2014
  • Amungee Mungee – RB Retail Capital, Singapore (various) – March 2014
  • Labelle & Welltree – Australian Agricultural Company, United Kingdom (various) -October 2013
  • Riveren & Inverway – Japfa Santori, Indonesia – October 2013
  • Tanumbirini – Thames Pastoral, United Kingdom – February 2012

Some of Australia’s well known large pastoral companies also have the backing of foreign money, including Australian Agricultural Company which holds twelve leases, Consolidated Pastoral Company with eleven, and North Australian Pastoral Company which has seven leases.

Companies with longer term investments in the NT with single leases include Oceanic Cattle Stations from Indonesia, Shoujaa from the United Arab Emirates, and the Malaysian Taimatsu and Sarawak Economic Development Corporation.

Indigenous land trusts account for the vast majority of the remaining land in the NT, with large areas of this land leased to local pastoralists.

The ABC says it compiled its research by contacting property owners and managers, agribusiness representatives, real estate agents, land valuers and DLRM data bases.

Information of foreign ownership of Australian agricultural land should become more readily accessible from next year onwards under recently announced changes by the Federal Government to foreign ownership rules.

Earlier this year the Federal Government announced that all foreign owners (including individuals, private companies and overseas Governments) with investments in Australian agricultural land must register their interests with the Australian Taxation Office (regardless of the value of that land) and existing holdings must be registered by 31 December 2015.

This register will be on the public record of foreign owned land and assets.

To see the full ABC report on the ABC website click here


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  1. Phil Johns, 17/09/2015

    Trevor, I think you’ll find your thoughts were captured in the abc article with the likes of Zlotkowski. It might have been a similar story back in the day and it’s still interesting today to know who owns what, whether the spread is increasing or decreasing.

  2. David Warriner, 16/09/2015

    Dead right Trevor. I would hate to think what north Australia (where the opinionated sea&treechangers don’t want to be) would look like without foreign capital. It would be a harvest like the north Kimberly now is. Once it was cattle country owned by Aust and foreign investors.

  3. Steve Ellison, 16/09/2015

    We always tend to forget history, to our detriment

  4. Trevor Anning, 16/09/2015

    On what basis does ABC make the claim that the foreign investment in the NT is a growing footprint? Thirty of the 47 leases it identifies as partly/wholly foreign owned are held by just three long-standing owners – AA Co, NAPCo and CPC – mostly with only minority foreign equity. They are basically unchanged, for decades. Go back and look at foreign owners in the NT in earlier times – Bakrie, Sultan of Brunei, Tejas Land & Cattle, Vestey, Borthwicks, Linkletter, King Ranch – the list goes on and on and on. If somebody had taken the trouble to compile the same list 20 or 30 years ago, I’d wager it has changed very little from this one, if at all. Some sweeping assumptions made by people who know very little about the topic, I’m afraid.

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