THE Federal Government has been slammed over its decision to leave Australia's foreign ownership policy unchanged.
Farm groups, the Opposition and rural communities across Australia have urged the Government to take action on the increasing number of farms bought by foreign investors.
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The Government released the final part of its foreign ownership review - a report by ABARES - last week and declared foreign ownership levels had hardly changed since the 1980s.
But doubts have been raised over the accuracy of the data, given that it was not monitored in Australia, and data in the ABARES report came largely from an Australian Bureau of Statistics survey sent to only 10,000 agri-businesses.
Victorian Farmers Federation president Andrew Broad described the Government's response to the report as a "limp-wristed, weak effort of addressing a problem that is in our nation's sovereign interest''.
"I think Australians are uninspired by the quality of our political leadership at the moment," Mr Broad said.
The ABARES report found foreign investment in Australia was important and investment restrictions would be detrimental to the agriculture industry.
"Australia's food security is likely to be further enhanced by ongoing foreign investments in agriculture," it said.
"For the economy as a whole, the flow of foreign funds leads to higher aggregate production in the economy and thus to higher incomes, which improves consumers' capacity to purchase food."
"Any measures that put further barriers in the way of foreign investors and reduce the flow of foreign capital into Australian agriculture would adversely affect the performance of the agricultural sector."
It did though, make recommendations to track monitor foreign ownership better and suggested establishing a land register in each state to track transactions.
Instead, the Government promised to fund the ABS to conduct more surveys on land ownership.
"The Gillard Government recognises there are some concerns in parts of the community about foreign investment in agriculture and will fund expanded statistical data collection by the Australian Bureau of Statistics to be conducted every two years,'' Assistant Treasurer Mark Arbib said.
"We will also expand the Agricultural Census to provide more information on ownership of Australian agricultural land.''
Shadow Minister for Agriculture and Food Security John Cobb said the public expected "hard-nosed investigation" from the Federal Government, but had been left disappointed.
"The ABARES report on foreign investment in Australian agriculture glosses over the very issues needing forensic examination and fails to shed new light on who owns what in our own backyard," Mr Cobb said.
"We need real data about the levels of foreign ownership of farm land and agribusiness, so the government can monitor foreign buy-outs and adjust policy settings when foreign control is not in Australia's national interests."