If last Conference is anything to go by, we know the issue of foreign investment is close to our heart. The urgency motion relating to the sale of Kidman & Co. resulted in the Federal Government blocking the sale to foreign investors. Now, there’s a new foreign investment regime to make sure our national interests remain at the fore of future sales.
The new regime promises improved transparency when it comes to the foreign ownership of Australia’s agricultural land. One aspect of the new regime involves changed screening thresholds for the purchase of agricultural land by a private investor. Previously the threshold was $252 million, now its $15 million.
In addition, direct interests in agribusiness valued at $55 million or more will also be screened by the Foreign Investment Review Board. This does not mean that overseas investors cannot buy Australian land or invest in our agribusiness sector, but that they will be subject to a more thorough screening process to ensure foreign investment is not against national interest.
Strict penalties for foreign investors who breach residential real estate rules have also been applied as at 1 December. Penalties include three years in prison or fines of $135,000 for individuals and $675,000 for businesses who breach these rules.
These changes have been the result of The Nationals championing this issue. Did you miss our story about how we helped ensure the Kidman property remained in Australian hands? You can read it here: http://www.nswnationals.org.au/kidman_property_to_remain_in_australian_hands.