Foreign Investor Land Grab

November 4, 2016

For those who follow local media, you may have likely come across several commentaries claiming that Australia is at risk of falling into the hands of foreign ownership. This largely refers to the sale of agricultural lands to overseas investors.


So is there any merit to such claims? Let's have a look at the facts.


The Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB) has released a document1 outlining the actual amount of agricultural land owned by overseas investors showing the approximate portion of the total of Australia that has been sold. 


A couple really interesting facts come out of their findings. According to their figures, 13.6% of Australian agricultural land is owned by overseas investors. This equates 52,147,000 ha which is a bit over twice the area of Victoria. The state with the highest percentage (by area) is NT which has 30.1% sold followed by TAS at 21.8% and SA at 15.6%. NSW / ACT is the lowest at 4.1% sold to over seas investors. The number of properties sold in NT is very small but the actual lots are massive where NSW / ACT has the highest number of sales but the lots are much smaller (NSW land is likely higher income earning due to climate). 


The thing that would really surprise some people is the break down of which countries own land here in Australia. The largest by far is the UK, followed by the US, Netherlands, Singapore and then China rounding out 5th place. 


As it stands, Australian citizens own the vast majority of Australian land. 

So what are the implications of Foreign Investment in Australia? According to one recent article, Treasurer Scott Morrison is quoted as saying:

“Foreign investment is integral to Australia’s economy,” 

The article goes on to further quote Mr Morrison as stating –

"It contributes to growth, productivity and creates jobs, but the community must have confidence this investment is in the national interest. With more than $3 trillion worth of foreign investment in Australia today and an annual inflow of around $200 billion we cannot afford to risk our economic future by engaging in protectionism”.2



In summary, it is important to stop and review the facts to have a full understanding of the true context of Foreign investment in Australia.


To view the original articles in full, see the links below:


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