New plan for land sales

By Country News

The Federal Government has announced a plan for new rules regarding the sale of agricultural land in an attempt to address rising foreign investment.

The changes require land to be widely marketed for a minimum of 30 days and for Australians to be given an opportunity to participate in the sale process.

Coming off the back of the Foreign Investment Review Board screening process, Federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud said the proposed rules were an opportunity to ensure Australians had a chance to invest in Australian land.

‘‘Our agricultural land and water resources are arguably our nation’s most valuable natural assets and I know there have been concerns around the ability of Australians to participate in the sale process of that land, including approval of the sale of (the 8million-hectare Northern Territory property) S. Kidman & Co Limited,’’ he said.

‘‘(We) understand people want transparency when it comes to foreign ownership and these new rules are another step forward to deliver that aim.

‘‘We welcome foreign investment in Australian agricultural land where it is in the national interest.’’

Mr Littleproud labelled the rules a series of ‘‘checks and balances’’.

‘‘We have reduced the screening threshold for foreign purchases of agricultural land from $252million to $15million and established the agricultural land register,’’ he said.

‘‘The announcement made today is the obvious next step to ensuring we give Australians who want to have a crack the best opportunity to invest in this great nation.’’