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Prime Minister announces foreign investment register at NFF National Congress

23 October 2012

The National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) has today welcomed the Federal Government’s decision to introduce a foreign investment register.

The register was announced by the Prime Minister, the Hon Julia Gillard, during her address to the NFF’s 2012 National Congress this morning, and was praised by the NFF President Jock Laurie.

“This is a win for the NFF, for our members and most importantly, for Australian farmers,” Mr Laurie said.

“In April, 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 – in order to gain clarity on the purchases of land and water and also have the ability to monitor trends.

“In June, the Government responded, stating that they would establish a working group to consult on the development of a foreign ownership register. This was a good first step, but today the Government has responded to the NFF’s calls, and announced that they will develop a foreign investment register that provides a more comprehensive picture of the specific size and locations of foreign agricultural landholdings.

“This is very welcome news for the Australian agricultural sector, as it means greater transparency around this much-debated issue,” Mr Laurie said.

“Of course, it is essential that we keep in mind that foreign investment has traditionally been very positive for Australian agriculture. It is very important that we do not deter foreign investment, but as we have been saying for months, we do want to see greater transparency around investment to ensure that the motivations behind this investment are clear.

“As we discussed at Congress just yesterday, we remain concerned about foreign-owned entities purchasing Australian agricultural land for the purposes of securing their own future food availability. But before any policy decisions are made on this important issue, we need to first have the national land register in place to understand the current levels of foreign investment in agriculture.

“Having a full understanding of foreign investment is crucial to getting the policy decision right. It’s essential that we’re very clear on the facts of foreign investment, and we will continue to focus our efforts on building transparency,” Mr Laurie said.

The NFF Congress continues at the AIS Arena in Canberra today.

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