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Tuesday, 20 June 2017
Page: 4307


Senator CORMANN (Western AustraliaMinister for Finance and Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate) (13:10): I move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

I seek leave to have the second reading speech incorporated in Hansard.

Leave granted.

The speech read as follows—

This bill amends the Foreign Acquisitions and Takeovers Fees Imposition Act 2015 to implement a streamlined and simplified foreign investment fee framework.

This is part of the coalition government's actions to ensure we have a foreign investment regime that meets community expectations, appropriately scrutinises applications but also balances these needs with supporting foreign investment that is good for Australian jobs and investment.

This bill gives effect in part to regulatory reforms that the government is undertaking to ensure Australia's foreign investment framework is robust and operates efficiently.

Fees were introduced as part of the 2015 reform package to ensure that Australian taxpayers are not funding the cost of administering the system. Since this time, the government has sought ongoing feedback on how the reforms are working in practice. In response to stakeholder feedback, the government is simplifying the fee framework.

The amended fee framework will reduce complexity, achieve more equitable fee outcomes and minimise the regulatory burden on stakeholders, without compromising the integrity of the review system. The changes are broadly revenue neutral, ensuring that foreign investors continue to meet the costs of funding the system.

The fee framework will reduce the number of fee tiers for some categories and implement a standard fee for low, medium and high value acquisitions. The new fee structure will also legislate some existing discretionary fee waiver arrangements to provide a more transparent and consistent approach.

The changes to the framework are not intended to encourage or discourage any specific investment category, but instead aim to ensure fees payable for different investment categories are applied on a more consistent basis for like transactions.

The bill will also introduce a 10 per cent fee increase for residential property applications to fund the establishment of the Critical Infrastructure Centre.

Full details of the measure are contained in the explanatory memorandum.