Mallee MP Andrew Broad attacks National Farmers Federation for criticising a plan to preference Australian farm buyers

Nationals MP Andrew Broad has attacked the National Farmers Federation for urging caution over a plan to preference Australian farm buyers over foreigners. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen
Nationals MP Andrew Broad has attacked the National Farmers Federation for urging caution over a plan to preference Australian farm buyers over foreigners. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

Mallee MP Andrew Broad has attacked the National Farmers Federation for criticising a plan to give Australian farmers the first opportunity to buy farmland.

The federal government plans to impose a 30-day mandatory minimum advertising period to farm deals worth in excess of $15 million before offering the property to foreign buyers.

The changes were unveiled by federal Treasurer Scott Morrison on Thursday, who said the government had introduced “tough new rules” to ensure that Australians got every opportunity to purchase farmland.

“We welcome foreign investment in Australian agricultural land where it is not contrary to the national interest. Our foreign investment rules facilitate investment while making sure Australia's national interest is protected,” he said.

Mr Broad, a National Party member whose electorate includes Stawell and Horsham, took to social media after the National Farmers Federation expressed concerns about the scheme.

“NFF should change their name to International Farmers Federation, they have lost the plot on this one,” Mr Broad stated.

“Australian farmers should always have the first opportunity to purchase Australian farm land.”

Federation chief executive Tony Mahar said on Thursday that the organisation supported the concept of “equal opportunity” to buy farmland and that in most cases, this occurred.

“Of course we support Australian businesses having every opportunity to invest in the agricultural industry. Notwithstanding that it’s important that we get the balance right between transparency and equity but also an open and market-driven environment,” he said.

“We should remember that by and large foreign investment in Australian agriculture has delivered positive outcomes for the industry,” he said.

According to the Foreign Investment Review Board, 5.9 per cent of Victorian agricultural land was owned by foreign interests in 2016-17, up from 5.7 per cent the year before.

The Northern Territory had the highest rate of foreign ownership at 25.6 per cent and the lowest was NSW and the ACT at 4.7 per cent, with 13.6 per cent of all Australian farmland being foreign owned.

The buyers from the United Kingdom held the most Australian farmland, followed closely by China, with the United States, Netherlands and Canada in the top five with significantly smaller holdings.