THE state and federal governments are being asked to consider establishing a database of land in Australia that is owned by overseas interests.
The suggestion by Mornington Peninsula Shire is part of a request for information of foreign ownership of land on the peninsula, particularly in the green wedge and special use zones.
Cr David Gill said he believed Australians had “a right to know about foreign ownership of our country”.
“We have a right to know about land banking by foreign identities, especially by developers pushing to rezone and subdivide,” he said.
“We should also know about lobby groups trying to exert influence over our various governments whose political parties still accept donations from self-interested land investors.”
Cr Gill told The News that golf courses in particular had been used as way to gain state government approval for “intensive residential development in the green wedge”.
The decision at council’s 13 July meeting for information about foreign land ownership came five months after the defeat of a similar move by Cr Gill.
At that stage Cr Sarah Race said moves to establish a database of foreign owned land within the peninsula’s green wedge areas “seems to have racist undertones” (“Shire shies away from ‘racist’ database” The News 8/2/21).
“I’m very uncomfortable highlighting foreign ownership rather than generally,” she said.
This time around – “by the slenderest of margins” – Cr Gill was supported by Crs Steve Holland, Paul Mercurio, Susan Bissinger, Debra Mar and Antonella Celi. Against the request were Crs Anthony Marsh, Lisa Dixon, Sarah Race, Kerri McCafferty and the mayor Despi O’Connor.
“In short, our community has a right to know what, where and how much land is controlled from overseas,” Cr Gill said.
“I am glad that the more provocative opposed arguments [about racism] used during the last debate were not repeated.
“I realise that there are Australian controlled entities who also land bank and pressure governments to change zonings, but to not allow our community to know how much land is foreign controlled seems incompatible with community standards in this day and age.”
In February, Cr David Gill said having a database made sense following revelations about the millions of dollars in donations being made to political parties by land developers.
“Finding out who makes donations and is putting pressure on politicians and who owns land in our municipality, state and country, is not racist. It’s a simply a matter of looking after our land.”
“We were ignorant about Casey Council until it happened,” Cr Gill said in reference to the allegations of money changing hands and rezoning pressures highlighted by the Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission (IBAC).
At least two former shire councillors have been linked to the continuing investigation.