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NFF welcomes foreign investment working group

15 June 2012

An announcement by the Federal Government that a working group will be established to consult on the development of a foreign ownership register is welcome news for the Australian farm sector, said the National Farmers’ Federation (NFF).

NFF President Jock Laurie said today’s announcement shows the Government is listening to industry’s concerns on foreign ownership in Australian agriculture.

“While we have long maintained that foreign investment has traditionally been very positive for the Australian agricultural sector, our members have remained concerned about any changes to the motivations behind investment – particularly motivations that are about ensuring other countries have sufficient food,” Mr Laurie said.

“As a result, two months ago, the NFF called for a national land register that makes it compulsory for all foreign persons or organisations that acquire or transfer an interest in agricultural land and water to report the sale.

“Today’s announcement is a step towards achieving this.

“In a statement issued today, the Government has acknowledged that a national register for agricultural land would provide a more comprehensive picture of foreign investment. This supports what the agricultural industry has been calling for: greater transparency.

“We will, of course, be consulting closely with this working group and monitoring their progress to ensure that that once consultation is complete, a register is ultimately developed,” Mr Laurie said.

Mr Laurie reiterated that the NFF supports foreign investment in Australian agriculture – on the condition that it does not negatively distort resources or production, does not undermine farm gate prices and is not undertaken with the intent of damaging competition in the marketplace.

“Foreign investment continues to be a very contentious issue, as we have seen in the past few weeks with the discussion around Chinese investment in the Ord,” Mr Laurie said.

“But it is important to keep this in context and we need to be very clear on the facts of foreign investment. The NFF will continue to focus our efforts on building transparency on this issue – and we will ensure that the Government’s working group does the same,” Mr Laurie said.

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