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Monday, 23 November 2015
Page: 8694

Senator CORMANN (Western AustraliaMinister for Finance and Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate) (20:54): The truth is that the coalition has a better understanding of business realities across rural and regional Australia than the Labor Party. That is the reality of it. The Labor Party is essentially a cities party and we have made a judgment that, when it comes to foreign investment in relation to agricultural land, a $15 million cumulative arrangement is the appropriate arrangement.

During this debate, as I have indicated before, some senators suggested it should be zero; some senators suggested it should be five. We do not support those propositions but we do appreciate the proposition which says, when it comes to investment in agriculture, as opposed to investment say in resources or in other sectors of the economy, that transactions are comparatively smaller, that there is more a tendency when it comes to investment in agricultural land to have successive transactions involving small individual parcels of land but the accumulation of interest obviously creates a more significant interest. In the circumstances, the judgment we have made—and it is there for all to see—is that the threshold should not be $252 million, it should not be $1 billion, it should not be $50 billion; it should be $15 million and it should be applied on a cumulative basis based on all holdings.