Nationals WA Member for the Agricultural Region, Paul Brown MLC, has welcomed the Federal Government announcement it will reduce screening thresholds on foreign investment in agricultural land.
The announcement made by the Prime Minister promises better scrutiny and reporting of foreign investment purchases of agricultural land and will include the following:
- 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 July 1, 2015 the Australian Tax Office (ATO) will start collecting information on all new foreign investment in agricultural land regardless of value.
“Australian agriculture has been built on foreign investment and it will continue to be a necessary and welcome part of ensuring a viable agricultural sector in Australia,” Mr Brown said.
“It‟s finding the right balance that‟s important. As a state we need to be encouraging investment partnerships between foreign investors and Australian landowners, so that our agricultural sector will be able to value add to their own land investments without necessarily having to sell off the family farm.”
The Australian Bureau of Statistics estimates that at June 30, 2013 a total of 49.6 million hectares of Australian agricultural land was owned by businesses with a level of foreign ownership.
At the same time in WA, 90-95 per cent of agricultural land was still owned by wholly Australian-owned businesses.
Mr Brown said The Nationals WA had continued to encourage foreign investment partnerships as part of its $300 million Seizing the Opportunity, Vision for Agriculture policy.
“As part of that policy we have funded $20 million for the implementation of the WA Open for Business Initiative to help attract foreign investment into WA,” He said.
“Along with that we have also funded $7 million to develop „Brand WA‟ to sell WA agriculture to the world.”