Abbott should protect Australian farming land

media-releases

Australian Greens agriculture spokesperson Senator Rachel Siewert said reports the Indonesian Government is planning to buy one million hectares of Australian farm land should set off major alarm bells.

"This will be the first test for the Liberal-National Coalition as to whether they put Australia's national interest first by protecting Australia's prime agricultural land and water," Senator Siewert said.

"In this century of food insecurity, the government should be protecting Australian farms from overseas land buyers and investors.

"What other country in the world would allow a foreign government to buy one million hectares of land? It certainly wouldn't happen in China or the US, so why is it happening here?

"Once you sell land to another country that's it ... you will never get it back. That's why the Greens have a plan to prohibit the purchase of agricultural land and water by foreign governments.

"The current inadequate scrutiny by the Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB) over the sale of our land and water is failing to protect our national interest.

"We do not even keep accurate records on the levels of foreign ownership despite multi-partisan support for the creation of a national register to track overseas purchases.

"At the moment, a foreign investor can make purchases of up to $248 million before they are subject to scrutiny by FIRB. On top of that the FIRB is not required to take into account cumulative purchases by the same foreign entity allowing creeping ownership.

"With climate change driving the collapse of crops, the food security issue is expected to worsen over the next few years. Australia is one of the countries being targeted by foreign buyers to secure their nation's own food security.

"Keeping control of our prime agricultural land water resources is critical to maximise our own resilience and provide exports to the global market. This is why the Greens are determined to protect our agricultural land and water for the future," Senator Siewert concluded.