About foreign investment
Australia’s foreign investment policy
Australia 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. Foreign investment supplements domestic savings; without foreign investment, production, employment and income would all be lower.
To ensure foreign investment proposals are consistent with Australia's national interest, the Australian Government reviews major foreign investment proposals on a case-by-case basis through the Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB). The FIRB examines significant foreign investment applications that fall within the scope of Australia's foreign investment policy and the Foreign Acquisitions and Takeovers Act 1975 and makes recommendations to the Treasurer, on behalf of the government, on those proposals.
The review system allows the government to consider community concerns around foreign ownership of certain assets when assessing Australia's national interest. The national interest test also recognises the importance of Australia's market-based system, where companies are responsive to shareholders and where investment and sales decisions are driven by market forces rather than external strategic or non-commercial considerations.
Detailed information on Australia’s Foreign Investment Policy can be found on the FIRB website.
Australia’s investment reforms – national security and critical infrastructure
Legislative amendments to Australia’s foreign investment framework entered into force on 1 January 2021. The reforms comprise three main elements: a new national security test for foreign investment proposals involving a ‘national security business’ or land; stronger compliance and enforcement options; and streamlined review processes for foreign investors who want to invest in non-sensitive businesses.
Australia welcomes foreign investment, with the overwhelming majority of investment being approved. A strong and secure economy creates a positive investment environment that ensures Australia remains an attractive destination for foreign investment. However, risks to Australia’s national interest, particularly national security, have increased as a result of developments including rapid technological change and changes in the international security environment. The introduction of the national security test provides the Treasurer with the ability to address new and emerging national security risks from foreign investment.
A ‘national security business’ under the foreign investment framework includes businesses that are responsible for critical infrastructure assets as defined in the recently reformed Security of Critical infrastructure Act 2018. This covers a number of assets within a range of sectors from communications to energy. It reflects assets and services that underpin our society and on which we rely for our everyday business and lives.
For more information on Australia’s critical infrastructure, see the Department of Home Affairs Critical Infrastructure (cisc.gov.au) page. Also: Security Legislation Amendment (Critical Infrastructure Protection) Act 2022 (homeaffairs.gov.au). For further information on Australia’s foreign investment framework, see www.firb.gov.au