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Tuesday, 29 May 1984
Page: 2094

(Question No. 683)


Senator Childs asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice, on 6 March 1984:

(1) Does the Foreign Investment Review Board, or the Foreign Investment Division of Treasury, compile statistics on the total level (as opposed to annual flows) of foreign ownership and control of any or all sectors of the economy; if so, what are those figures for the last three years.

(2) Does the Australian Bureau of Statistics compile statistics on the level of foreign ownership and control of any or all sectors of the economy; if so, what are those figures for the last three years.

(3) Does the Treasurer have any reliable information as to the level of foreign ownership and control of any or all sectors of the economy if the answers to questions (1) and (2) are no; if not, does the Treasurer intend to arrange for the compilation of such statistics.


Senator Walsh —The Treasurer has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

(1) Statistics on the level of foreign ownership and control in sectors of the economy are not compiled on a continuing basis by the Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB) or the Foreign Investment Division of the Treasury. The FIRB produced, on a one-off basis, some estimates (based on FIRB statistics) of the extent of foreign ownership and control in various sectors of the mining and mineral processing industries in 1982. These estimates were published in the 1982 FIRB report (pages 65-66) and indicated that:

in 1979, foreign ownership of projects in production in the black coal industry (in terms of output) was 40.3 per cent, and foreign control 43.5 per cent;

as at December 1978, foreign ownership of crude oil reserves was 50.5 per cent, of natural gas liquids reserves 46.7 per cent and of natural gas reserves 48.1 per cent;

based on beneficial interest in reserves as at 1980, foreign ownership of prospective uranium projects was about 40 per cent;

based on 1979 production, foreign ownership was 41 per cent for copper smelting and 45 per cent for copper refining; 42 per cent for silver refining; 24 per cent for nickel refining (nickel smelting was 100 per cent Australian owned); 40 per cent for lead smelting and refining and 18.5 per cent for zinc refining. The level of foreign ownership in the petroleum refining industry was 86 per cent; and

as at January 1982, foreign ownership in the alumina industry was 67.3 per cent based on existing capacity and 68.1 per cent based on projected future capacity. The level of foreign ownership in the aluminium processing industry represented 62.7 per cent of existing capacity and 63.7 per cent of projected future capacity.

These estimates must be interpreted carefully. In particular, they are not directly comparable with ABS foreign ownership and control statistics. For example, the FIRB estimates are based on data relating to production and beneficial interest in reserves or capacity whereas the ABS statistics measure foreign ownership and control on a number of different bases, the most frequently quoted being the value added basis.

(2) and (3) Statistical information on the degree of foreign ownership and control of selected industries and private sector activities is available in publications issued by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). Publications were produced for the following industries and economic activities before the discontinuation of these studies in 1978:

(a) Finance companies 1973 and 1976

(b) Registered financial corporations 1976

(c) General insurance 1972-73 and 1975-76

(d) Life insurance 1973 and 1976

(e) Tourist accommodation 1973-74

(f) Advertising agencies 1974-75

(g) Research and development 1976-77

(h) Mineral exploration 1975-76

(i) Manufacturing 1962-63 to 1966-67, 1972-73 and 1975-76

(j) Mining 1963 to 1968, 1971-72 to 1974-75, 1976-77

Work on foreign participation studies by the Australian Bureau of Statistics resumed late in 1982 and foreign ownership and control statistics will be compiled progressively for a wide range of industries and activities, including agriculture, mining, manufacturing, construction, retail trade, transport and finance industries.

In September 1983, the ABS released the first of its new series of publications on foreign ownership and control entitled 'Foreign Ownership and Control of the Mining Industry and Selected Mineral Processing Industries, Australia 1981-82' ( Catalogue No. 5317.0). Briefly, the results showed that:

foreign ownership in the mining industry accounted for 51 per cent of the value added in 1981-82 which, after adjustment to the statistics to put them on a basis comparable to statistics published in earlier years, was about half of a percentage point less than the level in 1974-75 when the last such study was undertaken. Moreover, 30 per cent of value added in the mining industry was under foreign control while Australian control accounted for 42 per cent, compared with 40 per cent in 1974-75 and 42 per cent in 1972-73;

foreign ownership of selected mineral processing industries accounted for 46 per cent of value added in 1981-82. After adjustments to the statistics to put them on a comparable basis, there was a decrease in Australian ownership of these industries of 7 per cent between 1972-73 and 1981-82. In 1981-82, foreign- controlled establishments accounted for 41 per cent of the value added of selected mineral processing industries, while joint foreign and Australian controlled enterprises together with naturalised or naturalising enterprises accounted for two per cent. Australian-controlled enterprises accounted for 57 per cent which, after adjustment to a comparable basis, was 1.2 percentage points higher than in 1972-73.