• Federal Budget 2020-2021

Strengthening Australia’s Foreign Investment Framework

In order to support more effective and efficient foreign investment application processing and compliance activities, the Federal Government has announced in the 2020-21 Budget Measures Paper it will commit $86.3 million over four years to implement a new online platform and a new consolidated Register of Foreign Ownership of Australian Assets. This measure is expected to increase the underlying cash balance by $54.7 million from 2020 to 2024.

The FIRB Application Process

Foreign persons who plan on undertaking direct investment in Australian real estate, businesses and certain assets are first required to obtain approval from the Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB).

Once a foreign investor begins the application, the FIRB examines the proposal and makes a recommendation to the Australian Government as to whether the application is suitable for approval under the Government’s foreign investment policy.

Simplifying the Application Process

In order to resolve the complexities of the FIRB application process, the Government has announced it will commit $86.3 million over four years to implement a new online platform and a new consolidated Register of Foreign Ownership of Australian Assets. These new measures are placed in addition to the $54.1 million over four years in net funding as previously announced in the July 2020 Economic and Fiscal Update, for Reforming Australia’s Foreign Investment Framework. The Budget changes will additionally seek to simplify the foreign investment fee framework and adjust fees from 1 January 2021, ensuring that foreign investors alone bear the administration costs, not Australian taxpayers.

BDO Comment

We support the introduction of a more streamlined platform, in order to reduce processing delays and remove additional costs for foreign investors where the wrong FIRB application form is submitted. Despite these changes, the underlying processes and the quantum and the complexity of information required to be submitted to the FIRB remains unchanged. Additionally, the ‘adjustment’ to the fee schedule will likely see increased application fees charged to offset the costs of the streamlined system.

Back