FEDERAL and state departments are being asked to reconsider earlier “informal” advice to Mornington Peninsula Shire Council officers that details of foreign ownership of land on the peninsula cannot be disclosed.
The shire’s request for land ownership details also includes a suggestion that the state and federal governments consider establishing a database of foreign owned land.
Chief financial officer Bulent Oz said the initial request for foreign owned land details in January had been “denied on the basis of sensitivity”.
The information had been sought in case a notice of motion lodged by Cr David for discussion at the 27 January council meeting was adopted.
However, the motion was defeated, and no further moves were made to find out more about who owns land on the peninsula.
Mr Oz said government bodies approached with the ”informal” request included the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP), FIRB (Foreign Investment Review Board), Australian Bureau of Statistics and the Foreign Affairs department.
Six months later at their 13 July meeting enough councillors had changed their mind and supported Cr Gill’s re-worded motion to make a formal approach to find out the extent of foreign ownership of land on the peninsula “particularly in the green wedge and special use zones” (“Shire wants foreign ownership details” The News 27/7/21).
After being seconded by Cr Susan Bissinger, Cr Gill’s motion was carried with the support of Crs Cr Steve Holland, Paul Mercurio, Debra Mar and Antonella Celi. Against finding out about foreign land ownership were Crs Anthony Marsh, Lisa Dixon, Sarah Race, Kerri McCafferty and the mayor Despi O’Connor.
In a comment on the agenda, Mr Oz said farmland purchases were scrutinised by the Australian Government “and certain acquisitions that meet threshold levels require Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB) approval”.
“Even if a proposed investment in agricultural land does not require approval under the thresholds, it will still require foreign investment approval if the land is ‘national security land’, regardless of its value or the nature of the investor,” he said.