Purchases of agricultural land of over $15 million will now be subject to Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB) scrutiny, the Prime Minister Tony Abbott announced yesterday.
The Australian Taxation Office will conduct a stocktake to provide the register of foreign agricultural landholdings in Australia.
The new $15 million screening threshold will apply to the cumulative value of agricultural land owned by the foreign investor, including the proposed purchase.
“This is not saying that we don’t want foreign investment,” Abbott said.
“We do want foreign investment but it’s got to be the right investment, the right investment that serves our purposes.”
The Commonwealth government is delivering on its commitment from the last election for scrutiny of foreign purchases of agricultural land being moved from $252 million to $15 million from 1 March 2015.
The government will also establish a foreign ownership register of agricultural land to strengthen reporting requirements and provide a clear picture of foreign investment in Australia’s agricultural sector.
From 1 July 2015 the Australian Tax Office (ATO) will start collecting information on all new foreign investment in agricultural land regardless of value.
The government will continue to work with state and territory governments so that the ATO register will use land title transfer information.
This article was first published on Property Observer.