Wednesday, 28 October 2020
Foreign Investment Reform (Protecting Australia's National Security) Bill 2020; Second Reading
That this bill be now read a second time.
Today the Morrison government is introducing a package of bills to ensure that Australia's foreign investment review framework is equipped to keep pace with the emerging risks and global developments, while remaining welcoming and open to foreign investment.
Foreign investment is important for Australia's long term economic success, stability and prosperity. It creates jobs, improves productivity and connects Australian businesses to global markets. Australia remains one of the world's most attractive investment destinations. Our stable democracy, rule of law, highly skilled and educated workforces and world-class industrial capabilities mean choosing to invest in Australia benefits both investors and Australians.
Australia's foreign investment regulatory framework has always sought to strike a balance between welcoming foreign investment and ensuring that all investment is consistent with Australia's laws and, of course, our national interests. However, in recent times the risks to Australia's national interest, particularly national security, have increased as a result of a range of factors—including rapid technological change and changes in the international security environment.
The government's foreign investment reform package deals with national security risks, strengthens compliance measures, streamlines approval processes and enhances administrative arrangements. Importantly, the reforms preserve the underlying principles of our system—that Australia welcomes foreign investment for the significant benefits it provides but also wants to ensure that individual investments are not contrary to the national interest, including national security.
As part of this reform package, this bill amends the Foreign Acquisitions and Takeovers Act 1975to give effect to the most significant reforms since this act was first introduced.
Key measures in the bill include:
In drafting this legislation the government undertook an extensive consultation process. This included the release of exposure draft legislation for public comment, more than 20 targeted stakeholder sessions reaching over 200 organisations such as peak bodies, state and territory governments, representatives from foreign private and government investors, and legal and financial advisers. Treasury, in addition, also held two public information sessions with over 120 subscribers.
Full details of the measures are contained in the explanatory memorandum.