VICTORIAN Farmers Federation vice-president David Jochinke has welcomed the Federal Government’s decision to establish a register for foreign-owned agricultural land.
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But he said the decision was just one piece of a much larger puzzle.

The government will establish a working group to investigate what ownership interests should be included in the register and how the register would interact with existing state and territory land title registers.

The VFF annual conference in April agreed to establish a comprehensive register of all agricultural land and water assets owned by foreign persons or enterprises.

Members also voted to reduce the threshold trigger for assessment by the Foreign Investment Review Board for foreign purchases to $5 million.

Mr Jochinke, who farms at Murra Warra, said the VFF wanted a register to get a better understanding of how much Australian land was foreign owned.

“We don’t want to jump at shadows, because we realise Australia has been built with foreign investment,” he said.

“We are pleased with the decision but that is just the first part.

“The second step is once we have gathered the information, what thresholds are we going to use. It comes down to a framework for what we and the government want the Australian agricultural landscape to look like.”

VFF president Peter Tuohey said a register was long overdue.

“A register is not about reducing foreign investment, it’s about gauging the level of investment in real time,” he said.

“The VFF will take a strong interest in this working group and provide information and comment to support the establishment of the register.”

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