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Monday, 23 November 2015
Page: 8601


Senator CORMANN (Western AustraliaMinister for Finance and Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate) (13:55): I am proposing that the Foreign Acquisitions and Takeovers Legislation Amendment Bill 2015 is part of a package of three bills, two of which—

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Minister, I am advised that you have already—

Senator CORMANN: Not on this bill.

Senator Wong: Mr Deputy President, I appreciate the procedural tack you have just taken. I did understand that we had agreed that we would finalise this bill separately, but, if that is not the advice from the Clerk, we are in your hands.

Senator CORMANN: Why don't I seek leave to provide some remarks that might assist the chamber in relation to this bill?

Leave granted.

Senator CORMANN: I thank the Senate. This bill is part of a package of bills to strengthen the integrity of Australia's foreign investment framework. The Senate dealt with two of those bills separately in the last sitting fortnight. This third bill, of course, is before the Senate today.

This is about making sure that Australia maintains a welcoming environment for investment that is not contrary to our national interests. These reforms will ensure that from 1 December 2015 Australia's foreign investment framework is more modern, simpler and better targeted to changing demands in community expectations. With this package of bills as a whole the government is implementing its commitment to increase scrutiny and transparency around foreign investment in agriculture but also responding to issues raised by the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Economics about how a lack of compliance and enforcement of residential real estate rules is undermining the overall integrity of the foreign investment framework. These changes will deliver robust additional resourcing to Treasury and the Australian Taxation Office to improve service delivery for investors.

The government has been able to work constructively with the opposition in relation to the first two bills, which were dealt with by the Senate in the last fortnight, and we have been able to work constructively with the Australian Greens in relation to this third bill of this very important package of bills. In order to inform the Senate in good time before question time starts, I propose to table a letter which the Treasurer, Mr Morrison, and the Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, the Hon. Barnaby Joyce, have sent today to Senator Richard Di Natale, the Leader of the Australian Greens, to give effect to certain understandings which we hope will facilitate the efficient passage of this final bill as part of these very important reforms to our foreign investment framework.

I thank both the leader of the Labor Party, Senator Wong, and the leader of the Greens, Senator Di Natale, for working with us in relation to different aspects of this important package of bills, which, hopefully, will successfully—

Senator Wong: I ask that the document be tabled.

Senator CORMANN: I know that English is not my birth language, but I had actually indicated in my remarks that I was about to table it. Maybe I have not expressed it as eloquently as I should have, but I now table the letter.

Debate interrupted.