Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Barnaby Joyce, and Treasurer, Scott Morrison, have reminded foreign owners of Australian agricultural land that they have till 29 February to register their holdings with the Australian Taxation Office’s Agricultural Land Register.
Minister Joyce said new rules introduced by the Coalition Government came into effect from 1 July 2015 meant all existing foreign-owned agricultural land holdings—regardless of their value—must be registered with the ATO by 29 February, and any new interests registered within 30 days of purchase.
“The Coalition Government welcomes foreign investment, which plays an important role in the growth and productivity of our agriculture sector,” Minister Joyce said.
“However, we have clearly heard and understood the concerns of the Australian community that the Government should have more thorough oversight and more accurate data in relation to foreign investment in agriculture, to properly ensure that such investments are in our long-term national interest.
“Our agricultural land is one of our nation’s most valuable assets—so it is important that we have a clear and accurate picture of foreign investment levels in our agriculture sector, and that those investments are subject to appropriate consideration and scrutiny,” Minister Joyce said.
The Treasurer noted that through the Agricultural Land Register, the ATO would be collecting comprehensive information on foreign ownership of agricultural land, as part of the Government’s commitment to increasing scrutiny and transparency around foreign investment in Australian agriculture.
“This is why we have introduced the foreign land ownership register, along with reducing the threshold for Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB) scrutiny of private sector foreign purchases of agricultural land from $252 million to a cumulative total of $15 million.”
Further information on the Agricultural Land Register is available on the ATO website.
Further information on the reforms to strengthen the foreign investment framework is available on the at FIRB website.