News.co.au is reporting that the Australian Government is considering scrapping a rule which requires any foreign firm to apply for permission from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) to grow its crop.
Read more: The ABC understands the rule, which is expected to be announced on Tuesday, is aimed at preventing foreign firms from profiting from the domestic crop, which in turn impacts the Australian population.
The ABS has been trying to work out how to get around the rule since 2016, when the then-Labor Government introduced the National Land Grant Policy, which requires foreign investors to pay taxes in Australia.
This year, the Government’s National Land Grants Committee recommended the changes to the National Agricultural Land Policy, a key policy document, which also requires foreign firms to apply in Australia for permission to grow their crop.
This is the second time the Government has sought to amend the National Lands Grant Policy since it was first introduced in 2016.
In a submission to the Government in January, the Parliamentary Library noted the ABS had made significant progress in developing guidelines for foreign investment in Australian agriculture over the last five years.
“We have now reached the point where we have a strong understanding of the impacts of this rule on the Australian agriculture sector and we will work to amend it to improve its compliance with international standards,” the submission read.
The submission was submitted by a member of the Parliamentary Committee on the National Agriculture Policy, Senator Mark Bailey, who is currently chair of the committee.
“The committee has made clear that it will seek advice from the relevant agencies and consult with the Australian Farmers Federation, the National Farmers Union and other relevant organisations to consider further amendments,” the committee said.
The ABC understands Mr Bailey is expected on Tuesday to introduce the amendments to the legislation.
The changes would be effective from March 2018.
In 2018, Mr Bailey’s Government introduced a number of amendments to legislation that would require foreign companies to apply to obtain permission to operate in Australia, including allowing the Government to require foreign investors, including foreign investors from overseas, to pay tax in Australia in the event of an acquisition of an Australian company.
This rule was introduced in March 2019, with the changes coming into effect from the end of 2018.
Mr Bailey’s reforms were criticised by the Australian Chambers of Commerce and Industry.
Read moreMr Bailey has been seeking to revise the rules since the early 2020s.
In February this year, he announced a number changes to his reforms to the national land grant policy, including removing the requirement for foreign investors who are already in Australia to pay a fee in order to obtain approval for a project.
The Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet has also sought advice from a number agencies and consulted with the AFR on the issue.
“Foreign investors must comply with international regulations, including the International Labour Organisation’s (ILO) ILO-2016 and the International Trade Union Confederation’s (ITUC) ILT-2017 requirements and have complied with other relevant Australian laws and regulations in the past,” a spokesperson for the Department of Agriculture said.
“This includes the rules relating to foreign ownership of agricultural land, including granting of foreign agricultural land rights.”
Under the Government of the day, foreign agricultural investment in Australia is permitted if it is conducted in a manner that is consistent with the relevant legislation, including providing reasonable protection for the interests of the Australian people.