National water register to measure foreign agriculture ownership

National water register to measure foreign agriculture ownership
National water register to measure foreign agriculture ownership

Foreign agribusinesses and investment groups will have to declare their permanent water assets with the Australian Taxation Office from next December.

The move to establish a water register was aimed to bring more clarity to debate about the sector’s asset owners.

In 2013, federal government figures suggested 13.7% (or 1808 gigalitres) of all water entitlements have some level of foreign ownership — up from about 8.5% in 2010.

Most significant water assets currently held by foreign investors are connected to irrigated production ventures, such as Singaporean agribusiness Olam’s almond plantations along the Murray River.

One of the most significant offshore investors, the big US water investor Summit Holdings Group sold out last year, selling its portfolio to local investment funds, including the new Aware Water investment group owned by former ports bosses Chris Corrigan and Peter Scanlon.

National Irrigators Council chief executive officer, Tom Chesson, told The Land that “misinformation was the enemy of good policy”, so more facts about who owned what would help the water industry.

Jonathan Chancellor

Jonathan Chancellor

Jonathan Chancellor is one of our authors. Jonathan has been writing about property since the early 1980s and is editor-at-large of Property Observer.

Tags: 
Rural Property Foreign Investment

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