UPDATE: PEOPLE concerned about foreign ownership of farm land have until Friday to comment on a proposed foreign ownership register.The Federal Government proposed the register last year after the sale of Queensland irrigation giant Cubbie Station provoked widespread debate over the level of foreign investment in Australia, especially in agriculture.
A 15-page consultation paper www.treasury.gov.au/ConsultationsandReviews/Submissions/2012/agricultural-land on the proposed national foreign ownership register was released in November last year.
The deadline for written comments is Friday.
The sale of Cubbie Station was completed late last week, when the majority foreign-owned consortium CS Agriculture assumed ownership of the 96,000 hectare property in a deal reportedly valued at $240 million.
Nationals Senate leader and federal opposition spokesman for regional development Barnaby Joyce described the sale as ''very disappointing''.
Senator Joyce said other potential buyers from Australia were not properly recognised during the sale process.
''We did ask Treasurer Wayne Swan to explain why it was not contrary to the national interest - there was a vote passed by the Senate - he refused to do so,'' he said.
''If this is not contrary to the national interest, then I can't see how the sale of any farm in the future will be contrary to the national interest.
''It's completely at odds with the message I get on the street, where people say they are very concerned about the loss of Australian farming land to overseas.''
Senator Joyce said it was absurd to say foreign owners could not take the land with them.
''England couldn't take India either, but it certainly made a lot of money out of it,'' he said.
The sale comes more than three years after the previous owners went into voluntary administration with debts of more than $300 million.
The consortium's major partner is Shandong RuYi, a clothing and textile company owned by Chinese and Japanese investors, with Australian family company Lempriere taking a 20 per cent stake.
Lempriere managing director Will Lempriere said it was business as usual.
''Our investment and our business strategy will provide long-term stability for the local community,'' he said in a statement.
''The management team remains the same, and we will partner with the local community to make sure this is a success.
''It is very much business as usual for the team on the ground.''
Shandong RuYi said in the statement that the sale would further cement strong relationships between Australian agriculture and China, describing it as ''mutually beneficial''.
A spokesman for administrators McGrathNicol, which was appointed in July 2010, said the company was happy with the outcome.
As a condition of receiving Federal Government approval of the deal, Shandong RuYi last year committed to reducing its 80 per cent share in Cubbie to no more than 51 per cent within three years.
And Lempriere has previously guaranteed the on-site management team would remain in place, along with Cubbie's existing contracts to gin its cotton crop in Australia.