Submission to Exposure Draft on Implementing Foreign Investment Reforms
The Business Council welcomes the opportunity to comment on the exposure draft legislation in relation to implementing foreign investment reforms, which will be given effect by the Foreign Acquisitions and Takeovers Legislation Amendment Bill 2015, the Register of Foreign Ownership of Agricultural Land Bill 2015 and the Foreign Acquisitions and Takeovers Fees Imposition Bill 2015.
The Business Council recognises there are community concerns regarding foreign direct investment in Australia. It is important that the government develop a methodical, evidence-driven response that addresses these concerns, without compromising investment opportunities on which the Australian economy heavily depends.
It will be important to ensure the new regulation introduced does not add unnecessarily to red tape. The proposed legislation and regulation will dramatically increase administrative complexity by increasing the number of provisions governing foreign direct investment (FDI) in agriculture. The complexity these provisions introduce will have an adverse impact on an industry that urgently needs new investment.
At a time when Australia transitions from the mining boom and is seeking new areas for growth, the Business Council sees the agriculture sector as an extremely promising one.
Investment in the Australian agrifood sector is required to ensure that it has the resources and capabilities necessary to innovate, compete and to grow. Investment is needed to ensure that the value chain is well capitalised.
In addition to domestic sources, foreign investment has been, and will need to continue to be, an important source of funds for the Australian agrifood sector.
Rather than putting up barriers to foreign investment, the government needs to make clear that Australia is open to investment, and put in place policies and actions that support this.