“The register doesn’t even begin to deliver what was promised and what was promised was we would be able to identify who owns what – it only provides an overview and a data trend about overall levels of foreign ownership.”
“What you are being told today is an utter betrayal of public trust. Scott Morrison, you are again on notice – what are you trying to hide?”
A spokeswoman for the Treasurer said the government had met its commitment and was only ever going to publish aggregated data, which was reflected in the 2015 legislation.
But Jones said there was a double standard for foreign investors, with more information available on domestic land owners.
“What this shows is an area of land more than two times the size of Victoria is now foreign-owned,” he said.
“Agricultural Minister Barnaby Joyce assured Parliament in September last year the register would be like a map, quote ‘… to see who owns what’ – Barnaby Joyce’s words,” Jones said.
“What it shows is that this is an issue that is in demand, people are wanting to secure their food supplies, they are wanting to secure that primary asset of the globe, which is freehold title to land and Australia is a great venue for that.
“What it also clearly shows is if the recent sale for Kidman had gone through, China would have become the second biggest holder of land in Australia, but that hasn’t gone through. What it also clearly shows is that you don’t have any worries about people wanting to invest
in Australian agricultural land – they are lined up – and the reason for that is the dynamics of the world are changing.
Conservative broadcaster Alan Jones has accused the Turnbull government of an “utter betrayal of public trust” and singled out Treasurer Scott Morrison for criticism over what he claims is the “whitewashing” of the foreign land ownership register.
A long-time critic of farms being sold to outside interests, Jones lost no time in ripping into the Turnbull government over the release of its long-awaited register detailing who owns what in regards to agricultural land, as the debate over Chinese investment in Australia shows no signs of slowing down.
Mr Morrison will release the report, which shows 13 per cent of the nation’s agricultural land is owned by foreign investors, on Wednesday.
It lists Britain, the United States and the Netherlands as the three biggest foreign investors in farming land. China is fifth with just 1.46 million hectares, or 0.38 per cent of Australia’s agricultural land.
The government is touting the register, first promised in 2013, as providing for the first time “scrutiny and transparency in Australian agriculture”.
But Jones saw it as a broken promise, unleashing a torrent of condemnation against the Coalition on Wednesday morning.
We were promised a national agricultural land register,” he said.
“All we’ve got is a travesty
“…And we’re told that this will show we’ve got nothing to worry about, because foreigners only own 13. 6 per cent of agricultural land and Chinese outfits own less than 1 per cent of agricultural land.
“Now if Scott Morrison and the government believe that this sort of bland whitewash will satisfy public concerns then they are kidding themselves