WHILE the increasingly large amount of Australian agricultural land owned by Chinese interests has caused a great amount of community concern, a new register set up by the Federal Government shows the UK is in fact the country's largest foreign landowner.
The Register of Foreign Ownership of Agricultural Land went live today and Treasurer Scott Morrison was quick to say the data should not be used as a justification for Australians to revert to protectionism.
"The Turnbull Government understands that trade and foreign investment has always created jobs in Australia for Australians, driven our economic growth and always will," Mr Morrison said via a statement.
"With more than $3 trillion worth of foreign investment in Australia today, we cannot afford to risk our economic future by engaging in protectionism.
"The land register is part of the Turnbull Government's package of measures to strengthen Australia's foreign investment regime which will better help to protect our national interest."
The report shows more than 46 million hectares of Australian agricultural land are owned by foreign interests - with companies based in the UK accounting for more than half of that and owning a massive 27 million hectares.
Coming in second was the US, third the Netherlands, fourth Singapore and fifth China.
The register states a total of 13.6 per cent of Australian ag-land is foreign owned, with the Northern Territory having the highest concentration of foreign ownership at 30.1 per cent, followed by Tasmania at 21.8 per cent, South Australia 15.6, Western Australia 10.9, Queensland 13, Victoria 5.1 and New South Wales/ACT 4.1.
In terms of which sectors were attracting foreign buyers livestock was far and away the most popular with foreign interests owning more than 15 million hectares of land predominantly used for raising beef and cattle - in Queensland alone.
All foreign investors with an interest in agricultural land are required to register that interest with the Australian Tax Office, regardless of the value of the land.
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