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Farmers call for rational debate on foreign investment

4 October 2013

The nation’s peak agricultural body, the National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) has called for sensible policy outcomes in the debate on foreign investment.

NFF President Duncan Fraser said the current debate should be focused on finding policy solutions that ensure Australian agriculture can continue to benefit from foreign investment, while also ensuring the concerns of Australian farmers, and the community, are addressed.

“The issue of foreign investment is very complex, but as we have long said, such investment has traditionally been very positive for Australian agriculture and should continue to play an important role,” Mr Fraser said.

“We have been very pleased to hear the Minister for Agriculture, Barnaby Joyce’s, comments over recent days supporting foreign investment – particularly the sale of two properties in the top end to an Indonesian company, after speaking to the Northern Territory cattle industry. This shows that the Minister is listening and taking the views of farmers on board.

“With the recent change in Canberra, we welcome the opportunity to discuss with the Government the best way forward on this issue. It is imperative that foreign investment is not deterred, but at the same time, greater transparency is needed to ensure the motivations behind it are clear.

“This is not new; we have been saying this for as long as this debate has raged, which is now well over two years.

“That is why the NFF continues to call for the introduction of a foreign investment register that makes it compulsory for all foreign persons or organisations that acquire or transfer an interest in agricultural land, water or agribusinesses to report the sale.

“Such a register would provide clarity on the level of foreign investment in agricultural land and provide the ability to monitor trends.

“This register is crucial in understanding the current levels of foreign investment in agriculture, and having a full understanding is critical in getting the policy decision right. The Coalition proposed the development of a register back in August 2012, and now they’re in Government, we hope to see this created as a matter of urgency.

“It’s essential that we’re very clear on the facts of foreign investment, which is why we will continue to focus on building transparency,” Mr Fraser said.

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