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Foreign Ownership of agricultural land register findings

The Turnbull Government today released an update of the Foreign Ownership of Agricultural Land Register, building on our commitment to increase scrutiny and transparency in Australian agriculture and foreign investment.

The Land Register shows foreign investors held just 13.6 per cent of all Australian agricultural land as at 30 June 2017, down from an adjusted 14.1 per cent on 30 June 2016. The United Kingdom remains Australia’s largest foreign investor in agricultural land. The preferred means of agricultural land investment is through leasehold interests, with 81 per cent of the land interests held by foreign persons being leasehold interests.

Of the 13.6 per cent of agricultural land held by foreign investors, United Kingdom investors own around 27 per cent (or 2.6 per cent of total agricultural land). Chinese investors own around 25 per cent of foreign held land (or 2.5 per cent of total agricultural land).

While there has been an increase in the amount of foreign owned land in Western Australia, foreign ownership represents less than 17 per cent of that state’s agricultural land.

There have been decreases in foreign held land in South Australia (33 per cent decrease), Queensland (11 per cent decrease) and the Northern Territory (10 per cent decrease).

The Turnbull Government understands that trade and foreign investment creates jobs for Australians, and always will.

At the same time, the Turnbull Government has taken consistent and determined action when it comes to ensuring foreign investment is not contrary to the national interest.

The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) administers the Agricultural Land Register and receives information directly from foreign investors. All foreign investors with an interest in agricultural land are required to register that interest, regardless of the value of the land.

The ATO matches land titles, immigration and other third party data sources to identify foreign investors who may not have recorded their land on the Agricultural Land Register.

This is the second release of the Foreign Ownership of Agricultural Land Register since it was introduced in 2015 as part of a suite of reforms aimed at increasing transparency around the levels of foreign investment in Australian land – a 2013 election commitment. It passed the Parliament with the support of the opposition. The Register as at 30 June 2017 is available on the Foreign Investment Review Board website.