Response to Modernisation Options Paper on Australia’s Foreign Investment Framework

The Business Council has made a submission that responds to the federal government’s request for feedback on options to modernise and simplify the Foreign Acquisitions and Takeovers Act 1975 (Cth) (“FATA”), Foreign Acquisitions and Takeovers Regulations and Australia’s Foreign Investment Policy.

The Business Council supports changes to Australia’s foreign investment policy and law to continue to manage risks effectively under the FATA, and to address community concerns about foreign investment, particularly in sensitive sectors, while minimising government and business administration and compliance costs.

Key recommendations include:

•    Changing the foreign investment notification requirements for a single foreign person from 15 to 20 per cent of total ownership, to be consistent with the Corporations Act.

•    That Australia’s Foreign Investment Policy be amended to make it consistent with the FATA, to eliminate ambiguity and increase predictability for investors.

•    That Australian expatriates not be included in the definition of a foreign person.

•    That the government consider either exempting Australian-listed companies with minority foreign ownership from notification, raising the trigger for FIRB review on aggregate threshold from 40 to 50 per cent in line with majority ownership, or granting the Treasurer power to exempt a company if certain pre-defined criteria are met.

Further details can be found in the submission.