Barnaby Joyce and Joe Hockey say the new rules will increase transparency around foreign investment.(Photo: News Corp Australia)
Reuters | 29 June 2015
Australia tightens rules on foreign ownership of farmland
By COLIN PACKHAM
Australia tightened rules on Monday requiring overseas investors to declare holdings of agricultural land in order to strengthen oversight, amid concerns that Australia is losing control of its own food security.
Foreign ownership of Australian land has become a touchy issue. Official estimates put foreign ownership at 10 percent, but there are concerns that it is far higher.
Australian Treasurer Joe Hockey said foreign owners should declare their interests with the country's tax office from July 1. The tax office will collect information on the location and size of property, size of interest acquired and country of origin of the foreign investor.
The information will be entered in a national register that will be made available to the public.
The move marks a further tightening in rules governing ownership of Australia's farmland. In March, Australia lowered the threshold for purchases of agricultural land by foreign entities requiring regulatory approval.
Foreign purchases of agricultural land over A$15 million ($11.48 million) will be subject to regulatory approval from Australia's Foreign Investment Review Board.
Previously, Australia had only required regulatory approval on foreign purchases of agricultural land of more than A$240 million. ($1 = 1.3070 Australian dollars) (Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)