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Foreign investment

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Background

Australia’s foreign investment review framework strikes a balance between facilitating investment and protecting Australia’s national interest.

Foreign investment is critical to Australia’s economy and prosperity. Without it, production, employment and income would all be lower. At the same time, successive governments have recognised that some proposed foreign investments may not be in Australia’s national interest. If the Government fails to protect the national interest, it risks losing public support for foreign investment, and with it, the many benefits that foreign investment provides.

Australia operates a foreign investment regime that is open, transparent and welcoming. Foreign investment proposals are reviewed against the national interest on a case‑by‑case basis – an approach that maximises investment flows while protecting Australia’s interests. If it is determined that a proposal is contrary to the national interest, it will not be approved or conditions will be applied to safeguard the national interest. More details about Australia’s current foreign investment policy can be found on the FIRB website.

Government Reforms

On 5 June 2020, the Government announced the most comprehensive reforms to Australia’s foreign investment review framework since the introduction of the Foreign Acquisitions and Takeovers Act 1975. These reforms will ensure that our foreign investment framework keeps pace with emerging risks and global developments, including similar changes to foreign investment regimes in comparable countries.

The reforms update the foreign investment review framework in three broad ways: they address national security risks, strengthen the existing system, and streamline investment in non-sensitive businesses. Details of the reform measures can be found in the Summary Booklet.

The Government will release exposure draft legislation in July ahead of a six week consultation period. Following the consultation, the legislation will be introduced to Parliament with a scheduled commencement on 1 January 2021.

Resources

Summary booklet – foreign investment reforms

Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB)