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Monday, 21 February 2011
Page: 762

Debate resumed, on motion byMr John Cobb:

That this House:

(1)   requires the responsible Minister to:

(a)   commission the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), with the assistance of ABARE, to prepare an information database on the foreign ownership of agricultural land and agribusiness, which should:

(i)   show the level of foreign ownership for Australia as a whole, by state and for key regions, and for particular agribusinesses;

(ii)   include an annual formal statistical release; and

(iii)   recommend what steps need to be taken to establish and maintain a public register of foreign ownership of agricultural land and agribusiness;

(b)   task the Productivity Commission, on the receipt of the initial ABS data, to:

(i)   review foreign ownership of agricultural land and agribusiness, with an evaluation of its contribution to the national interest in terms of economic development, food and water security, and agricultural sustainability; and

(ii)   recommend how the foreign investment policy on agricultural land and agribusiness should be modified, if necessary, to ensure the optimum outcomes for economic development and the national interest, including whether the Government needs to:

  • lower the threshold for notification to the Foreign Investment Review Board for rural land and agribusiness acquisitions;
  • introduce a national interest test for food security; and
  • ensure that foreign entities do not establish monopoly or near monopoly positions in key sectors.

(2)   commit to establishing a Joint Parliamentary Committee to consider the information provided by the ABS, ABARE and the, Productivity Commission, taking into account public concern in this area.