The Government has released for consultation draft amendments to the Register of Foreign Ownership of Agricultural Land Act 2015 which will establish a register of foreign ownership of water entitlements (Water Register).
This stage of consultation is aimed at confirming that the agreed approach to the Water Register is reflected in the legislation.
As part of the foreign investment framework reform package, the Government agreed to introduce legislation to establish a Water Register before 1 December 2016. The Water Register will enhance transparency about the level of foreign ownership of water entitlements in Australia and will assist in informing the Government and the community about emerging investment trends and enhance the information available to the Government for future policy development.
The Government undertook initial consultation in February 2016 and sought views on the creation of the Water Register. Submissions and comments indicated that stakeholders generally welcomed the prospect of further transparency about foreign ownership of water.
Following consideration of the submissions made, the 2016-17 Budget provided that the Government would implement the Water Register by requiring foreign persons to notify and update their interests in water entitlements with the Australian Taxation Office (ATO). Water entitlements will not need to be registered before 1 July 2017.