Coalition backs Greens' call for register of foreign farm ownership

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Foreign ownership of farms and water rights has become an election issue (supplied)

Australia Broadcasting Corporation | 29/07/2010

The Federal Opposition is supporting a call for a national register of foreign purchases of land and water in rural Australia.

It comes as concern mounts about Australia's food security, with foreign interests buying large parcels of farmland.

The Greens leader, Senator Bob Brown says a national register is long overdue.

"We don't even know who's buying up the farmlands of Australia," he says.

"The Foreign Investment Review Board looks at purchases of more than $231 million, but of course most land sales don't come into that category."

The Opposition's spokesman on agriculture and food security, John Cobb, says a national register is vital.

"I think there is a good case for Australia, particularly the Federal Government and the Department of Agriculture, being aware of how much agricultural land is owned by foreign interests."

But Labor says there are already measures in place to safeguard Australia's food security.

It says current foreign investment policy allows the Government to review significant foreign investment proposals on a case-by-case basis.

By law, all foreign governments, or any company owned by them, must notify the Foreign Investment Review Board and receive an approval, before making a direct investment in Australia.
Original source: ABC
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