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Gillard government to consult on foreign ownership register for agricultural land

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Senator the Hon Joe Ludwig Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry

The Hon David Bradbury MP Assistant Treasurer

Minister Assisting for Deregulation

Joint Media Release


The Gillard Government today announced a working group to consult on the

development of a Commonwealth foreign ownership register for agricultural land.

A national foreign ownership register for agricultural land would provide the

community with a more comprehensive picture of the specific size and locations

of foreign agricultural landholdings over and above what is currently available.

A government working group will formally seek stakeholder views on the

establishment of a register, including:

• What ownership interests should be captured under a register;

• How the register would interact with existing state and territory land title

registers, including the Foreign Ownership of Land Register in


• Ways to monitor and enforce compliance; and

• How information would be reported on and disclosed.


The Government will pursue a register where it will clearly improve transparency

of foreign ownership in agriculture without imposing unnecessary burdens on

investors or duplicating work already undertaken by State and Territory



This consultation process continues the Gillard Government’s record of

improving transparency in foreign ownership of agricultural land. In 2012 the

Government announced funding for an ongoing Australian Bureau of Statistics

(ABS) survey, following an Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource

Economics and Sciences (ABARES) study into foreign investment in agriculture.

The Government has also released guidance on the factors considered by the

Government when assessing foreign investment applications in the sector. 


The Government continues to maintain an open and welcoming approach to

foreign investment, including in the agriculture sector. Foreign investment in the

agricultural sector brings significant benefits to Australia and opportunities for

Australian farmers. It can help to generate higher employment and incomes,

investment in infrastructure and improvements to our food production

capabilities, often in regional areas.  


According to the recent report by ABARES, Australia’s foreign investment policy

provides a considerable level of scrutiny of foreign investment proposals and

operations of foreign-owned agribusiness in Australia. 


While there has been minimal change in foreign ownership levels of agricultural

land in Australia since 1984, the ABARES report highlights the need for better

data sources to provide a more comprehensive picture of how the landscape of

foreign investment in agriculture may be evolving. 

The working group will begin consultation with stakeholders and the States and

Territories and will be led by Treasury and include senior officials from the

Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, the Department of Agriculture,

Fisheries and Forestry and other relevant agencies.

15 June 2012

Media contact: Melissa Patch 0418 734 413 (Mr Ludwig’s


Justin Koek 0400 126 939 (Mr Bradbury’s