The Federal Government has revealed further details on its plan to introduce a national register of foreign-owned water entitlements.
It wants to collect details on the investor’s nationality, if it is a foreign government, the water entitlement volume and type and where the resource is located.
The Government has released a consultation paper on the proposal and is now seeking public feedback.
The paper states the aim of the register was to enhance the transparency surrounding the level of foreign ownership of Water Access Entitlements in Australia.
States and territories are responsible for a number of water registers, including entitlements, trade and water use.
However, the only official source of national data on foreign investment in water is the Agricultural Land and Water Ownership survey, managed by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
In June 2014, the survey revealed agricultural water entitlements with a level of foreign ownership, increased by 55 per cent between 2010 and 2013.
Tom Chesson, from the National Irrigators Council, said a national register could help establish whether foreign ownership of water is an issue.
“I know there is a lot of fear that certain countries or others maybe buying up big tracts of water and big tracts of land,” he said.
“Well the first thing that you need to do is get out there, measure it and find out whether you’ve got a problem.”
Japanese-owned Kagome operates a large tomato processing business in northern Victoria.
The company uses around 13,000 megalitres of water across its entire business including on other vegetable crops.
CEO John Brady said most of that water was purchased on the temporary water market, however the company does own some water entitlements.
He said he was in favour of a national water register.
“I welcome it, because it brings transparency to the whole system,” he said.
“I think what it will highlight is those people who are speculators coming into the market and invariably are not using the water for the production of food.
“We are using 100 per cent of the water that we buy on the temporary market to produce food, both for the Australian and export market.”
The Federal Government has agreed to introduce legislation on the foreign ownership water register by December this year.
Public submissions on the water register close March 11.