Revelations today that the Abbott/Turnbull Government’s register of foreign investment in agricultural land that has taken almost three years to produce won’t be publicly available is another broken election promise.
Prior to the 2013 election, the Coalition promised to match Labor’s plan to establish a register of foreign investment in Australia’s agriculture land holdings.
Labor’s plan was to ensure transparency and build community confidence in foreign investment in agriculture by allowing any resident - wherever they live – the opportunity to check who is buying what and where at the click of a mouse.
The Coalition made it clear it would do the same. In the Foreign Investment discussion paper it is noted that:
“There is no data base capable of tracking acquisitions of land across Australia to inform public debate or policy. To rectify this unsatisfactory situation, the Coalition will establish such a database, or databases, as an up to date public register.”
On 16 September 2015 Barnaby Joyce told the House of Representatives:
“We have already started the passage of this: as of 1 July, the Australian Taxation Office will start delivering the information so that Australian people can basically see who owns what. That will either dispel people's concerns, or maybe, in some instances, it could confirm people's concerns. One of the most sacred duties we have is the proper oversight—“
Barnaby Joyce has not announced the Government’s broken promise; he just hoped it would become lost in the heat of the election campaign.