The Australian Greens, who have long called for a register of foreign ownership of agricultural land, have called Prime Minister Gillard’s re-announcement today “an important step in protecting our national interest” and vowed to work with the government in implementing it.
The Greens also have a bill in the Senate with Senator Xenophon to introduce a stricter national interest test for the Foreign Ownership Review Board’s review of sales of agricultural land, and will continue to pursue that issue.
“It’s simple common sense that we should know how much of our food-growing land is owned by overseas interests, so the Prime Minister’s commitment today is an important step, but there is much more to be done,” Australian Greens spokesperson on Agriculture, Senator Rachel Siewert, said.
“With Labor, the Coalition and the Greens all supporting a register, I hope we can have a mature and sensible discussion about what needs to be included – such as water licences – and what else we can do to keep control of our farming land.
“When governments such as China’s and Qatar’s are actively buying land around the world to channel food directly home to their people in times of need instead of through normal trading systems, we should be looking at these transactions very carefully.
“A register is the first step, so we can know who owns what. But we also need to have a proper view to what is being bought and by whom and the Greens will be keeping up the pressure for that,” Senator Siewert concluded.