China increases farm ownership but no water data

The latest Agricultural Land Register has revealed that foreign investors increased the size of their Australian agricultural land holdings by 4.1 per cent to 52.6 million hectares in the 12 months to June this year.

But Conservative Party leader Cory Bernardi says the Foreign Investment Review Board has failed to keep its promise to release a foreign ownership register of water in Australia.

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Chinese investors have added another 50,000 hectares to their Australian property portfolio, taking the total area of property under Chinese control to more than 9.1 million hectares amid growing concerns over foreign interference and national security.

China is now the second largest investor in Australian land and is within a million hectares of the top landholder, the United Kingdom, as Canberra moves to tighten controls over foreign investors.

The Australian Financial Review reports, the government is preparing its first register of foreign ownership of water access rights which is in the final stages of preparation and will be released “in coming months”.

However, a week ago when calling for the overdue release of the land register, Senator Bernardi has told Tom Connell on Sky News that the water register’s release will be much later than the government initially promised.