Push is on for foreign investment registry to be updated

New England MP Barnaby Joyce to push for federal government's foreign investment registry to be updated

National News
New England MP Barnaby Joyce is pushing for the foreign investment registry, he helped champion, to be updated.

New England MP Barnaby Joyce is pushing for the foreign investment registry, he helped champion, to be updated.

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It's been revealed the government is working off years old data to gauge foreign investment in Australian agriculture.

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NEW England MP Barnaby Joyce has renewed his push to ensure the federal government's registry of foreign investment in Australian agriculture is kept up to date.

The push comes after it was revealed the government is working on data that is years old to gauge the level of foreign investment in the agriculture sector.

The registry, which was an election promise of Mr Joyce's during the 2013 election, is meant to be updated annually by the federal treasury.

Overwhelmingly, the Australian people want the Australian country to be owned by Australians. - Barnaby Joyce

However, it is understood the registry, which keeps track of foreign ownership of Australian land has not been updated since 2017-2018.

"This is really frustrating because it is something I fought for, because I believe the Australian public wants to know who owns what," Mr Joyce said.

"I'm calling for that registry to be brought up to date and to be made public, but the longer you wait to make it public, the more people get suspicious about what might be in it.

"Overwhelmingly, the Australian people want the Australian country to be owned by Australians."

The registry was introduced by the Coalition in 2015, however there have been no new reports since 2018.

"We know there will be a portion of foreign ownership - that's always the case - but we don't want it to be excessive in crucial areas of our economy," Mr Joyce said.

"Also, we don't want to be excessive on certain aspects of land, certain classes of land, which are primary production methods and I think a classic example there is water."

NSW Farmers president James Jackson backed the MP's push to update the registry, adding foreign ownership was a "touchstone issue" for his members.

"We certainly support the register, I can tell you that much," Mr Jackson said.

"Transparency essentially creates confidence in these sort of issues and obviously foreign investment is a sensitive issue.

"One of the things you can do is make sure it is transparent.

"We don't necessarily oppose foreign investment in our economy, but certainly transparency about the level of foreign investment is critical to maintain community support."

National Farmers Federation (NFF) chief executive officer Tony Mahar said the registry was critical to public confidence for the government.

"The NFF is aware of the issue of the registry being out of date and we'd would like to see the problem resolved as soon as possible," Mr Mahar said.

"The value of the registry is that it's information is as current as practicable and that the contents is reported to the public in the interests of transparency.

"The register must be kept up-to-date and adhere to its own deadlines if it to maintain the confidence of the public."

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