The Real Estate Institute of New South Wales (REINSW) says the new foreign investment legislation introduced by the federal government is “necessary” and “an important step forward”.
REINSW president Malcolm Gunning said the industry body supports the foreign investment reforms that will see the maximum civil penalty increased from $90,000 to three years’ imprisonment or a $135,000 fine.
“The previous fines were not significant and these increases will act as a disincentive,” he said.
“We don’t want to scare off foreign investors as in many cases they are underpinning our construction industry.”
Mr Gunning said a major issue with foreign investment in the past was due to inadequate policing.
“We welcome the fee of $5,000 for properties valued at $1 million or less, and higher fees to more expensive residential and agricultural properties as well as commercial real estate and business applications,” he said.
“We support new compliance powers granted to the Australian Taxation Office, which we believe is the appropriate place to find such transactions, and additional powers to the Foreign Investment Review Board.”
Mr Gunning recommended the government promotes the new legislation and its ramifications through local foreign language newspapers and major overseas newspapers to ensure the message gets out there.
“Most foreign investors don’t come into Australia with the intention of breaking the law,” he said.
“They tend to seek advice from someone who they have been referred to who speaks their native tongue, and this is where the problem lies because they are often taken advantage of and given incorrect advice.”
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