UPDATE: NO CHANGES will be made to Australia's foreign investment policy.
In releasing the ABARES Foreign Investment and Australian Agriculture report this morning, Assistant Treasurer Mark Arbib said foreign ownership levels in agricultural land today were comparable to levels of the 1980s.
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Senator Arbib said the Federal Government would invest money into ongoing surveys and monitoring of foreign investment in Australia but the current $231 million threshold at which potential investors must apply to the Foreign Investment Review board will remain the same.
"The Gillard Government recognises there are some concerns in parts of the community about foreign investment in agriculture and will fund an ongoing and expanded statistical data collection by the Australian Bureau of Statistics to be conducted every two years," Senator Arbib said.
"We will also expand the Agricultural Census to provide more information on ownership of Australian agricultural land."
The Western Australian Farmers Federation said it was "disappointed" the Government had "ignored the concerns of Australian farmers" by failing to decrease the $231 million threshold.
"WAFarmers believes there is a need for greater transparency in the current and future levels of ownership of Australian farmland by foreign interests," President Mike Norton said.
"As such, we seek the Federal Government to reduce the current trigger, which would result in the FIRB being able to consider a greater number of agricultural applications."
The ABARES report said Australia had a high level of food security, foreign investment in the agricultural sector engances Australia’s food security by increasing efficiency and productive capacity and that about 99 per cent of agricultural businesses are Australian owned.
Victorian Farmers Federation president Andrew Broad described the decision as a "limp-wristed effort".
"What a limp-wristed effort of addressing a problem that is in our nation's sovereign interest," Mr Broad said.
"I think Australians are uninspired by the quality of our political leadership at the moment."
"The threshold of $231 million is ridiculous but not only that, there are very few cases that have gone over the $231 million (and have been reviewed by the Foreign Investment Review Board) have actually been questioned or stopped so it requires not just some legislative changes but it requires some attitude change too in the leadership of our country.
"The greater issue is should we have a national interest test? Do we want to own our country or do we want to sell it?
"I'm not saying foreign investment should be stopped but we should have the right to make up our mind ourselves."