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Friday, 16 December 1983
Page: 4020

Question No. 344

Senator Jones asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice, on 7 September 1983:

Will the Treasurer consider authorising the Foreign Investment Review Board to release full details of any purchases of Australian rural land by foreign interests, including the full identification of the purchaser(s), the amount tendered for the property, the location of the property, the area of the property, details of prior advertising on the Australian market and the purpose to which the property will be put; if not, why not.

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

A requirement that the full details of all purchases of rural land by foreign interests be released would represent a significant departure from the approach presently taken in relation to information supplied in confidence by parties to foreign investment proposals. The Government and the Foreign Investment Review Board rely on the co-operation of parties for the supply of commercial information necessary for the effective consideration of proposals. This co- operation would be endangered if the confidentiality of such information could no longer be assured.

I would draw the honourable senator's attention to the fact that the Government has continued the established practice of ensuring that a rural property has been publicly advertised or otherwise made clearly available for purchase by Australians before giving consideration to a foreign investment proposal for its acquisition. The Government has also continued the practice of publicly announcing decisions on major or otherwise significant proposals after consultation with the parties involved. Decisions by this Government on proposals involving rural property interests which have been made public are:

a proposal by Wallcreek Trust to acquire land at Noosa and Tewantin, Queensland (further information is provided in the Treasurer's statement of 22 April 1983);

a proposal by Nchima Tea and Tung Estates Ltd to acquire shares in Iota Pty Ltd , a predominantly United Kingdom-owned company with rural property interests in Western Australia (the Treasurer's statement of 21 July 1983 refers);

a proposal by two United Kingdom-owned companies to acquire an aggregate 50 per cent interest in Australian Airport Services Pty Ltd, the main activities of which are in the cotton industry at Bourke, New South Wales (the Treasurer's statement of 3 November 1983 refers); and

the proposed acquisition of 'Rosewood' station in the Northern Territory by the Sarawak Economic Development Corporation (the Treasurer's statements of 10 May and 16 August 1983 refer).

Information of foreign investment proposals involving acquisitions of rural properties (numbers and areas of properties, by State) is also prepared on an aggregated basis by the Foreign Investment Review Board and made publicly available.