Joint Media Release
Senator Joe Ludwig
Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry
99 Per Cent of Agricultural Businesses Entirely Australian Owned
Australian Bureau of Statistics data shows 99 per cent of Australian agricultural businesses are entirely owned by Australians.
The Australian Government has today welcomed the release of ABS data on foreign ownership of rural land and water entitlements.
The data also shows only 5.8 per cent of Australian agricultural land is majority owned by foreign investors, with a further 5.5 per cent majority owned by Australians but with some foreign investment.
The ABS data shows at 31 December 2010:
- 99 per cent of Australian agricultural businesses were entirely Australian owned
- 88.6 per cent of agricultural land in Australia was entirely Australian owned
- 91 per cent of the water entitlements for agricultural purposes in Australia were owned by entirely Australian owned businesses.
All states showed high rates of Australian ownership of agricultural businesses, ranging from 99 per cent in Queensland to 96 per cent in Tasmania.
The state with the highest proportion of land held entirely by Australian owned businesses was Victoria, with 99 per cent of its 12 million hectares Australian owned. The Northern Territory had the lowest proportion with 76 per cent of its 59 million hectares entirely Australian owned.
Assistant Treasurer, Bill Shorten, said "The Australian Government understands the legitimate community concerns about foreign investment in agricultural land and businesses. At last we have some hard data about the true extent of foreign ownership of agricultural businesses, land and water."
"This is the first time since 1984 this type of research have been undertaken. I think it is vital we continue to get the facts straight about this very important debate in the national interest."
"The policy debate surrounding Australia's agricultural land and businesses has raised a number of issues, often extending into areas outside foreign investment. Part of this debate has been driven by the lack of information around foreign ownership levels in this sector."
Mr Shorten said "As a capital-importing country, foreign investment is crucial to ensuring our continued economic growth and prosperity – including in the agriculture sector."
"However, foreign investment is changing around the world. It is vital we protect the national interest and continue to strike the right balance between attracting foreign investment, and ensuring Australia's agricultural sector and food security are maintained."
"Once the Government has the forthcoming Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES) and Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation (RIRDC) research, together with the ABS data, we will continue to ensure foreign investment remains appropriate to Australia's current and future policy challenges."
Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Senator Joe Ludwig, said "The agricultural sector is of strategic importance to the Australian economy and Australia's regional communities. Transparency is important, and that's why today's ABS data is needed."
"The work commissioned by the Australian Government – including the figures released today by the ABS – is important to frame discussions about rural land and water ownership."
"This research, together with the findings of upcoming ABARES research for the RIRDC, will provide a sound factual foundation for future policy discussion," Senator Ludwig said.
9 September 2011
The Australian Government commissioned the ABS research in November last year, as part of its commitment to enhancing the transparency of foreign ownership of rural land and food production.
The research was commissioned jointly by the Assistant Treasurer and the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry as part of a broader information gathering process to address some emerging community concerns in this area.
The ABS data released today will form an important part of the ABARES/RIRDC work which will be released in coming months.