Government tightens rules on foreign purchases of agricultural land

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

The Federal Government has today announced it will put in place better scrutiny and reporting of foreign purchases of agricultural land.

Mr Pitt said the measures being introduced by the Coalition were a significant achievement for The Nationals.

“The Nationals advocated strongly on this issue – both in Opposition and since coming to Government- to protect Australia’s national interests and give the community greater confidence that investment is coming in on our terms,” Mr Pitt said.

“I am pleased we are delivering on the commitment we made to Australians, but particularly those living in regional, rural and remote parts of the country.

“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.”

Mr Pitt said the Government was also currently considering the recommendations of the Parliamentary Committee inquiry regarding foreign investment in residential real estate, and would announce details of the reforms in coming weeks.

“There needs to be better enforcement of the rules for foreign purchases of existing homes so that young people are not priced out of the market,” he said. 

“These laws were not legally enforced by the former Labor government – not once.

“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.

“We will ensure that any foreign investment occurs in the appropriate sectors of our economy, to protect our national interests for current and future generations.” 

Media contact: Larine Statham 0427 653 814