The Business Council is concerned the government is sending the wrong message to overseas investors by lowering the Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB) screening threshold for agricultural land to A$15 million without proper process, according to Chief Executive Jennifer Westacott.
“Australia has always relied on foreign investment to underpin our economic growth, jobs and way of life," Ms Westacott said.
“History shows the more open our economy is, the more successful we will be.
“Looking to the future, around one trillion dollars of investment is needed in our agriculture sector alone through to 2050.
“We cannot be sure the benefits of the government’s decision will outweigh the costs as no regulatory impact statement has been undertaken.
“The government has pre-empted the conclusions of its yet to be completed Agriculture White Paper by implementing a policy without proper process.
“Australians want to be assured that foreign investment is in everyone’s interests. That is entirely reasonable but governments have a responsibility to provide these assurances in a methodical way to avoid unintended costs.
“All foreign investment proposals are subject to Australia’s competition and corporate rules, just like domestic investments. Governments should only change the foreign investment guidelines if a proper assessment shows that these rules are no longer effective in protecting the national interest.
“The Business Council continues to support the long-term aspiration of lifting the FIRB private investment threshold to A$1.1billion.
“We welcome the opposition’s commitment to this reform and urge the government not to undermine the great work it has done in securing free trade agreements in our region through a poor policy process," Ms Westacott said.