The Federal Government has listened to concerns from the community about the amount of oversight for foreign purchases of agricultural land. Addressing this issue was a key election commitment at the last election and The Nationals are delivering on this issue.
The threshold for screening foreign investment in agricultural land will be reduced from $252 million to $15 million from 1 March 2015. The threshold of $15 million for screening is a cumulative figure.
We will also establish a foreign ownership register of agricultural land which will help to establish the proportion of foreign investment in Australian agriculture. This will be done with the cooperation of the Australian Tax Office (ATO). The ATO will collect information about new investments as well as collecting information about existing agricultural land ownership by foreign interests.
The Government is currently considering foreign investment in residential real estate and the recommendations made by a Parliamentary Committee on this topic.
Foreign investment in the agricultural industry is not a new concept; however it is understandable that we need to gather more information. This information will be important for the community to retain confidence with the investment in this country.
Investment from other nations in our agricultural sector has been the norm for centuries, but it is reasonable for Australians to know that this investment will be in our nation’s benefit.
The Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal (FRRR) is currently calling for applications under the Small Grants for Rural Communities (SGRC) programme.
These are grants of up to $5000 for projects or activities that benefit smaller communities. Applications are accepted from not-for-profit organisations with an ABN or incorporation certificate. Community organisations that work together to submit a single application are considered favourably.
The FRRR works with Government and other organisations to support small rural communities. In 2013 the Foundation spent nearly five and a half million dollars in areas like aged care, arts, culture and heritage, education, natural disaster recovery and tourism.
Saturday 21 February I will be co-hosting the first Community Leaders Breakfast in Dubbo for the year with Deputy Premier Troy Grant and Dubbo City Council Mayor Mathew Dickerson. I encourage members of the community to come along to chat with their elected representatives. The Dubbo Men’s Shed will be putting on a barbeque for a gold coin donation.