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Joyce, Morrison clash on foreign farmland


Treasurer Scott Morrison and Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce appear to be at loggerheads over the level of foreign ownership of Australian farmland.

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The United Kingdom has emerged as the biggest owner of agricultural land, with the largest stake by land holding, in a new report today. China is fifth behind the US, Netherlands and Singapore.

But only hours after Morrison stressed that about 85 per cent of farmland remains in Australian hands and less than half a per cent is owned by Chinese interests, Joyce pointed out that just over 52 million hectares are foreign-owned.

The Acting Prime Minister, who’s long fought for the register’s creation, said that was more than twice the size of Victoria.

“When people dismiss it as not much – well that’s a substantial amount of land,” he told ABC radio.

The Nationals leader said the Chinese level of holding would have been substantially higher if the sale of S Kidman & Co had been approved.

“It’s just like houses. If someone said 13 per cent of houses in Sydney were foreign-owned, people would start having some serious concerns.

“We have a duty as a politicians first and foremost to make sure the greatest beneficiary of the Australian assets is the Australian people.”

Morrison said the biggest sale of agricultural land he had ever approved was to Dutch and Canadian interests.

The Treasurer used the report’s release to warn against the rise of protectionist sentiment, saying foreign investment was important and Australia could not put its economic future at risk by engaging in protectionism.

“It helps us to make the case because around the world today – and there are elements of this here in Australia – there is a longing to perhaps … to pull the head under the doona,” he told Sky News.

Who owns Australian land?

Top countries that own the most agricultural land by size:

  1. United Kingdom
  1. United States
  1. Netherlands
  1. Singapore
  1. China
  1. Philippines
  1. Switzerland
  1. Jersey
  1. Indonesia
  1. Japan


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