The Australian Government welcomes foreign investment. It has helped build Australia’s economy and will continue to enhance the wellbeing of Australians by supporting economic growth and innovation into the future. Without foreign investment, production, employment and income would all be lower.
Foreign investment brings many benefits. It supports existing jobs and creates new jobs, encourages innovation and the induction of new technologies and skills, provides access to markets and promotes competition amongst our industries.
The Government reviews foreign investment proposals against the national interest on a case‑by‑case basis. This flexible approach is preferred to hard and fast rules. Rigid laws that prohibit a class of investments too often also stop valuable investments. The case‑by‑case approach maximises investment flows, while protecting Australia’s interests.
The Government works with applicants to ensure the national interest is protected. However, if it is ultimately determined that a proposal is contrary to the national interest, it will not be approved, or conditions will be applied to safeguard the national interest.
The Government expects all investors (both foreign and domestically-owned) to comply with Australia’s laws and maintain high standards of conduct at all times. This includes following both the spirit and the letter of Australian law, and acting in good faith in complying with any conditions imposed by the Government.
Foreign investors should familiarise themselves with Australia’s foreign investment framework and ensure they comply with the law. Failure to do so may result in the imposition of penalties.
Foreign investment reforms
From 1 January 2021, the Government has introduced new reforms to ensure that Australia’s foreign investment review framework keeps pace with emerging risks and global developments.
The reforms update the framework in a range of areas, including in relation to national security, compliance monitoring and enforcement, and streamlining certain investments. A simpler and fairer fees framework is also introduced.
Importantly, the reforms preserve the underlying principles of the framework: that Australia welcomes foreign investment for the significant benefits it provides but also ensures that investments are not contrary to the national interest. Australia’s foreign investment framework remains non-discriminatory and applications will continue to be assessed on a case‑by‑case basis.
Legislation & regulations
The Australian Government expects all entities operating in Australia to maintain the highest standards of corporate behaviour, irrespective of whether those entities are Australian or foreign owned. Persons involved in operating these entities are expected to understand Australia’s regulatory environment and abide by all the relevant requirements. Some of the obligations of which foreign investors should be aware are outlined in a series of fact sheets.
A series of guidance notes have been developed to assist investors and other stakeholders understand the foreign investment review framework.