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Tuesday, 10 September 1996
Page: 3915

(Question No. 275)


Mr Bradford asked the Treasurer, upon notice, on 28 May 1996:

(1) Has his attention been drawn to concern in the community about the extent of foreign ownership of Australian property and the extent of foreign equity in Australian corporations.

(2) Did his Department stop publishing foreign ownership figures in 1986; if so, why.

(3) What is the estimated total value of foreign investment in Australia.

(4) Will the guidelines under which the Foreign Investment Review Board operates be changed; if so, how.


Mr Costello —The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1) I am aware that there are some in the community who are concerned about foreign ownership of Australian property and businesses. Australia's foreign investment policy seeks to balance these community concerns with the benefits of foreign investment. In recognition of the benefits of direct foreign investment (such as supplementing domestic savings, integrating the Australian market with the world economy and increasing competitive pressures), the overall stance of foreign investment policy is liberal and welcoming of direct foreign investment. Restrictions are applied in a few areas such as residential real estate (where the net benefits to Australians from investment are considered to be lower), media, telecommunications and civil aviation.

(2) The Australian Bureau of Statistics publishes statistics on foreign ownership of equity covering all sectors of the economy in each March quarter issue of International Investment Position Australia (Catalogue No 5306.0) and also in Year Book Australia (Catalogue No 1301.0).

(3) At 31 March 1996, the level of foreign investment in Australia was $428,789 million (Source: International Investment Position Australia March Quarter 1996).

(4) The Commonwealth legislation review schedule indicates that a review of foreign investment policy will be undertaken in 1996-97. The review schedule includes reviews to be undertaken in accordance with the requirements of the national competition policy and reviews of legislation that

impose costs upon business. The review of foreign investment policy falls into the latter category.