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Monday, 23 November 2015
Page: 8698


Senator CORMANN (Western AustraliaMinister for Finance and Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate) (21:01): Firstly, we disagree with the grocery council's position on this. We took our position to the last election, and the people of Australia will have an opportunity to pass judgement on the way that we have dealt with this at the next election as well. Clearly Senator Wong has not really listened to my extensive answers to her various earlier questions. The difference between agriculture and some of the other sectors she mentioned is that the transactions are inevitably much smaller. If the threshold for agriculture were the same as, for example, for defence industries and the resources sector, as she is suggesting, then essentially no foreign investment transactions in Australia would be likely to be captured by that.

It seems that Senator Wong was talking against her own amendment by suggesting that the threshold between agriculture and defence industries and the resources sector should be the same because, according to her own amendments, that would not be the situation if Labor's amendments were to pass.

The government is pursuing this because there is a very clear policy rationale for it—that is, that we recognise the importance of foreign investment for our future economic success. We think it is very important that the Australian community can have confidence in the integrity of our foreign investment review screening arrangements. That is why, consistent with our pre-election policy, we are putting this legislation forward.