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Register of Foreign-owned Water Entitlements: Productivity Commission inquiry report

Irrigation Water usage Fresh water Water governance Regulatory compliance Sector regulation Australia

The Register of Foreign Ownership of Water or Agricultural Land Act 2015 (the Act) provides for the collection of information, and publication of statistics, about foreign interests in agricultural land and certain water entitlements and rights.

Under section 34A of the Act, the Productivity Commission (the Commission) is required to undertake an assessment of the effectiveness of the scheme insofar as the scheme relates to the Register of Foreign Ownership of Water Entitlements and requirements to give information about foreign holdings of water entitlements, including the costs and benefits of that scheme. This inquiry is that assessment.

Key points:

  • There is no compelling case for major changes to the Register of Foreign Ownership of Water Entitlements (the Register). It plays a small, yet useful, role and apart from a few tweaks should continue for now, provided its costs remain low.
  • The transparency provided by the Register helps maintain community confidence in Australia’s approach to foreign investment. It gives ministers, government agencies and other interested parties an authoritative source of information on foreign ownership of water entitlements in Australia. There is no other source for this information.
  • There is not a compelling case to provide more granular information on foreign ownership, such as at the water source or catchment level. Such information could risk being used to identify registrants, violating confidentiality provisions.
  • There is no alternative approach to the current Register that would provide the appropriate transparency at a lower cost.
Related Information

Register of Foreign-owned Water Entitlements: Productivity Commission draft rep… https://apo.org.au/node/313596

Publication Details


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Inquiry Report 98