Coulton welcomes improved scrutiny of foreign ownership in agriculture
The Coalition Government’s robust new foreign investment regime came into effect this week.
Federal Member for Parkes, Mark Coulton welcomes the regime that will improve scrutiny and transparency around foreign ownership of Australia’s agricultural production.
“The Government understands that the average farming business is smaller than other businesses and simply applying the $252 million general threshold for foreign investment screening excludes a large part of the agricultural sector,” Mr Coulton said.
“This is why we have reduced the screening threshold for proposed foreign purchases of agricultural land by private investors to $15 million.
“In addition, direct interests in agribusinesses valued at $55 million or more will also be screened by the Foreign Investment Review Board.
“We have also acted to create a new agricultural land foreign ownership register and expanded the agricultural land register to include residential land and water entitlements.
The Coalition Government is also continuing to work collaboratively with the States and Territories to ensure that sales of critical infrastructure to foreign investors are properly scrutinised.
“We are committed to strengthening the system so that residents across the region can have confidence foreign investment will not be contrary to the national interest,” Mr Coulton said.
“Foreign investors who have breached the residential real estate rules had until 30 November 2015 to voluntarily come forward under the reduced penalty period and any investors caught in breach of the rules will face severe penalties.
“The ATO has taken over full responsibility for enforcing residential real estate purchases by foreign citizens and existing criminal penalties have been increased to $135,000 or three years’ imprisonment, or both for individuals; and up to $675,000 for companies.”
For more information on the changes visit www.firb.gov.au