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Tuesday, 8 November 2016
Page: 3129

Agriculture Industry

Mr KATTER (Kennedy) (14:17): My question is to the Treasurer. Fifty-one per cent of Australia's land mass is registered desert lands, 21 per cent is Aboriginal lands without title deeds, precluding pastoral activity, and seven per cent is national parks, leaving only 25 per cent—180,000 hectares—available for agriculture. Australia's five biggest farming operations—the Ord Stage 2, Van Diemen's dairies, Cubbie, Nicoletti grains and Terra Firma—are all foreign owned. Foreign ownership, as researched by Fairfax, is increasing at over 20 million hectares a year. I refer to a question on notice from 12 October. Minister, why have you refused to give any guarantee that a majority shareholding in Kidman will not shift to foreign control after the sale to Shanghai CRED and Rinehart— (Time expired)

Mr MORRISON (CookTreasurer) (14:18): I thank the member for his question. As the member would know, under the relevant legislation, if the Kidman property were to be sold to what I understand is now the only bidder—which has a component that is 30 per cent foreign owned—and if there were to be any change to that arrangement in any subsequent purchase, it would have to come back again for consideration first by the Foreign Investment Review Board and then, on recommendation, by the Treasurer.

There seems to be some suggestion outside of this place—and I do not suggest that has come from the member who asked the question—that somehow, if that sale were to proceed, then subsequent to that the property could be onsold with no further review. That is simply not the case. Any proposal that triggers the foreign investment threshold review, which a parcel of that size certainly would, would always have to come back and be considered by FIRB and by me, as Treasurer. I remind the member that on the two occasions that I was asked to consider the sale of the Kidman land I rejected it—on two occasions. I note that the shadow Treasurer indicated that he would have approved it before the last election.