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Tuesday, 11 October 1983
Page: 1610

Question No. 471

Mr Blanchard asked the Treasurer, upon notice, on 8 September 1983:

How many pastoral leases are (a) wholly and (b) partially owned by foreign companies and what area do they cover.

Mr Keating —The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(a) and (b) Information on the extent of foreign ownership of pastoral leases is not available to the Commonwealth, as administration of pastoral leases is the responsibility of the States and the Northern Territory.

Proposals by foreign interests to acquire rural properties (including pastoral leases) are examinable under the Government's foreign investment policy. The Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB) has supplied the following information on foreign acquisitions of rural land which have been approved by the Government since the Board was established in April 1976. (Details are not readily avaialble on the specific category of pastoral leases.)


Number of

proposals Consider- Period

approved Area ation(a)

'000 ha $m 1976-77(b) 72 1,583 18.8 1977-78 74 2,156 29.2 1978-79 49 4,226 32 .8 1979-80 94 2,113 71.1 1980-81 128 1,158 87.5 1981-72(c) 80 2,370 75.7 1982 -83(d) 78 1,864 38.6

(a) Payments for shares and assets.

(b) April 1976 to June 1977.

(c) FIRB is aware that 2 of these proposals (involving 524,000 hectares) did not proceed.

(d) FIRB is aware that 4 of these proposals (involving 559,000 hectares) did not proceed.

Proposals approved by the Government in terms of its foreign investment policy since April 1976 have involved 15.5 million hectares, i.e. about 3 per cent of total rural land in use. Of course, that figure does not provide an accurate picture of foreign ownership of rural land, for a variety of reasons. In the first place, it does not cover purchases prior to April 1976. Moreover, some of the proposals approved since April 1976 would not have been implemented (where known, this is footnoted in the above table); about one-third involved intending migrants; many involved some Australian participation; and some were foreign-to- foreign sales. In addition, the figures take no account of foreign-owned land sold back to Australians, of which the Foreign Investment Review Board would not generally be aware.