UPDATE: THE threshold for reporting foreign investment in Australia has increased from $231 million to $244 million this month.
The Nationals have slammed the increase and labeled the increase as failing to put the national interest first and protect farm land from foreign raiders.
Opposition agriculture minister John Cobb said the move showed agriculture was not on the government's radar.
"This is hot on the heels of the government's release of the ABARES report last week that disregarded the very issues needing closer examination and failed to improve the knowledge 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 controls are not in Australia's national interests.
"It was obvious that the $231 million trigger before the FIRB weighs in was clearly out of step with reality and now the $244 million just defies logic," Mr Cobb said.
A Federal Government spokesman described the increase as a "scheduled indexed increase" and that it was "not something new".
Assistant Treasurer Mark Arbib said the Coalition was running "another scare campaign"."The change is a scheduled indexation of the threshold for private investors only and was announced in 2009. All applications from foreign governments or state owned enterprises continue to be screened by the Foreign Investment Review Board.
"In relation to foreign investment in agriculture, the Federal Government makes policy decisions based on clear and factual evidence.
"Just last week the ABARES report into foreign investment in Australian agriculture confirmed that foreign investment improves food security, increases production and incomes, is vital for Australian farmers and supports agricultural jobs.
"ABARES confirmed that current foreign ownership of agricultural land, businesses and water entitlements in Australia is comparable with the levels of 1983-84, with around 99 per cent of agricultural businesses entirely Australian owned and 89 per cent of agricultural land entirely Australian-owned.
"ABARES also makes the point that attempts to place more regulatory barriers in front of foreign investment could lead to lower levels of food production and this could result in higher food prices.
"The government has announced it will fund an ongoing and expanded survey by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, to be conducted every two years, to improve transparency and give a better idea of the trends happening in agriculture.
"It's time the Opposition acted responsibly and in the best interests of Australian farmers by looking at the facts before trying to incite fear in the community."