Who might have to pass the Pauline test

 

Foreign entities attempting to buy a stake in Australian businesses would be required to pass a national benefits test under a radical plan put forward by Queensland senator Pauline Hanson.

The firebrand One Nation leader, who declares she is fed up with the Federal Government's "tick and flick" approach to foreign investment, will introduce a private senator's Bill early next year to add an Australian benefits test to new applications. 

Under her proposal, all foreign investment would have to either create or retain jobs, introduce new technology to Australia, or increase export opportunities.   

"If a proposed sale doesn't meet that straightforward test, it is rejected," she said.

Senator Hanson accused Treasurer Josh Frydenberg of having a weak grip on foreign investment in his pursuit of economic prosperity.    

She said Australia faced a continuing loss of assets, income, jobs and security concerns. 

"The Foreign Investment Review Board is weak and under-resourced, putting Australia at risk," she said.

"The foreign investment approval process needs to be tightened."

Under previous rules, acquisitions in non-sensitive businesses up to $1.1 billion did not require screening. 

 

Josh Frydenberg
Josh Frydenberg

 

Pauline Hanson
Pauline Hanson

 

Queensland tops the list for the amount of land owned by foreigners, with 15.4 million hectares of the state - or 11 per cent - the subject of international investment in the 2018-19 financial year. 

The investment fell 1.7 per cent on the previous year. 

In residential real estate Queensland recorded 1648 transactions by foreigners in 2018-19, with 128 of those valued at more than $1 million.

Last financial year the Foreign Investment Review Board approved more than 8500 investment applications potentially worth $231 billion.

The US was the largest source of proposed investment by value, followed by Canada, Singapore, Japan and China. 

Chinese investment is continuing to trend downward from its peak in 2015‑16.

In March Mr Frydenberg introduced temporary screening on all foreign investment during COVID-19 to safeguard the national interest.

"These temporary changes are intended to be replaced by permanent reforms to our foreign investment framework," he said.

"Under the reforms currently before the parliament, mandatory screening of investments in sensitive national security businesses will be subject to a $0 monetary threshold.

"However, for all other investments, prior screening thresholds will be reinstated."

Senator Hanson said the looming removal of the screening had foreign governments and corporations hovering like vultures ahead of a potential fire sale of struggling Australian assets.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Originally published as Who might have to pass the Pauline test



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