Major reforms to foreign investment and security laws now in force

  • From 1 January 2021, new laws have come into force which have amended the current Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB) regime.
  • The biggest change is to the acquisition of land and businesses deemed to be in the national interest.
  • These reforms grant powers to improve government oversight and enforcement of conditions attached to FIRB approvals.

Australia introduced the Foreign Acquisitions and Takeovers Act 1975 to regulate the acquisition of land and assets in Australia, by foreign persons or entities. It imposed reporting obligations on foreign persons and entities engaging in transactions, and provided the Federal Government extensive powers to monitor and intervene in transactions involving foreign persons.

From 1 January 2021, the following laws have come into force which have amended the current Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB) regime:

    • Foreign Investment Reform (Protecting Australia's National Security) Act 2020and
    • Foreign Investment Reform (Protecting Australia's National Security) Regulations 2020.

National security business and national security land

The biggest change is to the acquisition of land and businesses deemed to be in the national interest. The reforms require mandatory notification of:

    • any proposed acquisition of an interest (usually 10 per cent or more), by a foreign person in a national security business or national security land, regardless of its value and
    • where a business or entity owned by a foreign person starts to carry on a national security business.

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