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Friday, 24 August 1984
Page: 363


Senator JACK EVANS —I direct my question to the Minister representing the Treasurer. Does this Government have a register of the details of foreign ownership of Australian land and other major assets? If not, does it consider it desirable for the Government and the Australian people to know what proportion of this country is foreign owned and controlled? If so, what steps is the Government taking to ascertain how much of Australia is foreign owned and to create a register of foreign owned and controlled Australian land and other substantial assets?


Senator WALSH —The answer to the first question-whether there is a register of foreign ownership of rural land-is no.


Senator Jack Evans —Land, not rural land.


Senator WALSH —I am sorry. For land in general the answer is still no. It is a question that has been discussed from time to time and would, I think, require significant co-operation from the States. I will determine from the Treasurer whether there is any firm proposal in the pipeline at this stage and let Senator Evans know. As Senator Button has reminded me, the Government very recently reintroduced data gathering procedures or practices within the Australian Bureau of Statistics to determine more accurately the foreign ownership of Australian industry. Such information was previously collected but was, I believe, a discrete decision. Collection of that information was terminated by the former Government in 1976, very early in its term. That decision has now been reversed by the present Government. Detailed statistics on the foreign ownership of industry will be collected. I have no more to say.