The Greens have secured an Australian-first register of foreign owned water entitlements, in agreeing to support government legislation that gives the Foreign Investment Review Board greater scope to check if sales of Australian land to overseas buyers is in the national interest.
"The Greens have long been calling to drop the trigger for the FIRB's national interest test down to total purchases worth $5 million, and I'm pleased that the government now agrees with us and is cutting the trigger from $252 million to $15 million. It's a significant step in the right direction," said Greens Leader Richard Di Natale.
"We're extremely proud to have a commitment, written into the legislation, that the government will establish a register of foreign owned water entitlements, in addition to the register of foreign own land that we passed earlier this month.
"As global warming and extreme weather events disrupt food production worldwide, it's critical that we view Australia's agricultural land and water as key national assets, not to be sold off recklessly."
Greens finance spokesperson Senator Peter Whish-Wilson said the legislation will also pave the way to having FIRB oversee water purchases.
"The Greens have not only secured a water register, but we have also secured a Government commitment to review the inclusion of water asset sales in the Foreign Investment Review framework.
"In a climate constrained world, agricultural output is about water just as much as it is about land, the two go hand-in-glove.
"What the Greens have achieved today is a significant win for transparency and oversight in how Australia manages our land and water.
"This kind of scrutiny is critical to making sure Australia makes informed and strategic decisions about our land and water resources, especially as global warming impacts on food availability and prices."
The bill, inclusive of the Australian Greens amendment, is expected to pass the Senate this evening and will have the Government's support when it returns as amended to the House of Representatives.