Australian Treasurer says there are ‘no plans’ to relax foreign ownership rules

The Australian government has “no plan” to relax foreign investment rules, the Treasurer has said.

Scott Morrison was responding to a report in The Australian newspaper, which said the Treasury was looking at a proposal to allow foreign businesses to escape scrutiny for deals worth up to $100 million.

It would have allowed around 300 deals a year to go through without being examined by the Foreign Investment Review Board, which has the power to veto sales of Australian assets to foreign buyers.

However, Morrison used a tweet to deny that he is considering any proposal to relax foreign investment rules.

He said: “Contrary to today’s media report­ the Govt has no plan to ease foreign investment rules.”

There are separate proposals being considered which are designed to make it easier and cheaper for foreign buyers to purchase new property in Australia.

A consultation paper written by the Treasury’s Foreign Investment Policy Unit said that changes to the foreign investment framework announced in December 2015 have encouraged overseas buyers not to comply with the rules on ownership.