Please note the Government announcement 16 Feb 2017

The announcement of $9.5 million from the foreign aid budget was for the third phase of SPRINT, which Australian Governments have funded since September 2007. This funding reinforces our longstanding commitment to addressing the needs of women and girls in humanitarian crisis/natural disaster situations.

SPRINT provides access to safe birthing, family planning services, HIV prevention and treatment, protection against sexual violence and assistance to survivors of rape and violence in crisis-affected places. 

Sexual and reproductive health services are critical to reducing maternal and child mortality. SPRINT assists vulnerable people in crisis to access a minimum standard of sexual and reproductive health services, which include clinical services for safe birthing (e.g. clean delivery birthing kits, setting up of maternity wards, emergency obstetric care).

These services are helping women and girls to stay healthy, remain in education, and participate equally in society and the economy.

The Australian aid program, including the SPRINT program, supports the same range of sexual and reproductive health services in developing countries as are available in Australia, subject to the laws of those countries.

Australia does not support or fund sex-selective abortion. 

Additionally the Planned Parenthood Federation of America is not eligible and does not receive any Australian aid funding contrary to what is currently being publicised on various internet sites.

The sale of the Kidman station.

The Kidman station is a privately owned property. Like any Australian property owner, the Kidman family are entitled to review expressions of interest on the sale of their property. As per my comments made in the press on Friday 28 Oct 2016 when asked about the current pending offer on the Kidman estate.

"That’s a matter for the Kidman family to make a decision on who their top bidder is and who their purchaser is going to be. If there are foreign investment implications from that decision, then that will be considered by the Government in due course. On two occasions I rejected the foreign investment applications for previous bids. I’m pleased to see that there are now a number of Australian bids for this iconic empire. It’s now up to the Kidman family to make a decision on how they want to proceed and the Government will take it from there, if the Government is required at all to consider any of those matters."
Please also consider my comments regarding the first application for sale on the Kidman property on 29 April 2016

PRELIMINARY DECISION OF FOREIGN INVESTMENT APPLICATION FOR PURCHASE OF S. KIDMAN & CO LIMITED

As part of my long and careful deliberations regarding the acquisition by foreign investors of S. Kidman and Co. Limited, consistent with the formal process required, I have today informed the investor that my preliminary view of the proposal that has been put to me is contrary to the national interest.
 
Australia welcomes foreign investment, however we must be confident that this investment is not contrary to the national interest. Australians must have confidence in how we regulate foreign investment, to ensure continued support for foreign investment that is critical to our economy in providing jobs and growth. This is a relevant consideration.
 
On 15 April I exercised my statutory discretion to extend the period in which I have to review this application. I did this in order to provide me with sufficient time to consider this complex case. Without this extension I would have been required to have made a decision that week. This additional time has assisted me in forming my preliminary view.
 
The Kidman land portfolio is the largest private land holding in Australia. The Kidman portfolio holds approximately 1.3 per cent of Australia's total land area, and 2.5 per cent of Australia's agricultural land. Even after the excision of Anna Creek and The Peake properties, Kidman will still be Australia's largest private land owner and hold over 1 per cent of Australia's total land area, and 2 per cent of Australia's agricultural land.
 
Given the size and significance of the Kidman portfolio I am concerned that the acquisition of an 80 per cent interest in S. Kidman & Co Limited by Dakang Australia Holdings Pty Ltd (Dakang) may be contrary to the national interest. I have today made my concerns known to the applicant and provided them with a natural justice period in which they may respond and consider how they wish to proceed. The applicant shall have until next Tuesday 3 May 2016 to respond.
 
I have concerns that the form in which the Kidman portfolio has been offered as a single aggregated asset, has rendered it difficult for Australian bidders to be able to make a competitive bid. The size of the asset makes it difficult for any single Australian group to acquire the entire operation.
 
On 20 April I commissioned an external and independent Review of the Kidman sale process to examine market integrity issues around the Kidman sale process so that I could be fully informed. The Review, conducted by Professor Graeme Samuel AC, was tasked with providing advice on whether the competitive bid process offered fair opportunity to Australian bidders to participate.
 
The Review contains sensitive commercial in confidence material which precludes its release. While the review found the sale process followed a satisfactory commercial practice that offered opportunity to Australian parties to make an offer, the review also found there remains significant domestic interest in Kidman.
 
I outlined my concerns in my announcement and decision on Kidman on 19 November 2015. I noted then that the size and significance of the total portfolio of Kidman properties in the proposed form as a single composite property asset was not in the national interest. I am not yet satisfied these concerns have been addressed by the revised proposal that has been submitted to me.
 
The size and significance of the portfolio, combined with the impact the decision may have on broader Australian support for foreign investment in Australian agriculture, must also be taken into account in this case.
 
The Turnbull Government welcomes foreign investment where it is consistent with our national interests. However, we must always ensure it is on our own terms. There are not too many jurisdictions anywhere in the world where foreign acquisition of large holdings would be permitted.
 
As Treasurer I have approved many significant foreign investment proposals and I consider each on its merits. Foreign investment has underpinned the development of our nation and we must continue to attract the strong inflows of foreign capital that our economy requires. Without foreign capital and investment, Australia's output, employment and standard of living would all be lower.
 
Foreign investment rules facilitate such investment while giving assurance to the community that the investment is being made in a way which ensures that Australia's national interest is protected We will continue to welcome and support foreign investment that is not contrary to our national interest.
What has the Government's done to improve the review process on Foreign Investment?

As Treasurer I have announced many changes to bolster foreign investment rules.

  • Formal requirements on foreign investment applications to ensure multinational companies investing in Australia pay tax here on what they earn;
  • Greater compliance powers for the Australian Taxation Office and strict new penalties for those caught breaking the rules;
  • A new agricultural land foreign ownership register and reduction of the screening threshold for proposed foreign purchases of agricultural land by private investors to $15 million;
  • FIRB screening of direct interests in agribusinesses valued at $55 million or more;
  • The appointment of Mr David Irvine (a former Director General of both the Australia Security Intelligence Organisation and the Australian Secret Intelligence Service) to the FIRB, bolstering the Board’s ability to advise on national security issues;
  • Appointment of Mr Peever to the FIRB (retired as Managing Director of Rio Tinto Australia in October 2014 after 27 years with the company and recent chair of the Minister of Defence’s First Principle Review of Defence);
  • Forced sales of 27 properties, worth more than $76 million, illegally acquired by foreign nationals.
What's the Government's position on live animal exports?

I understand that animal welfare is of great concern to the Australian community — no one supports animal cruelty, least of all farmers and all those reliant on the trade. But equally no one wants to see our farmers and others involved in rural industries suffer hardship because there is no market for their livestock.

The livestock export industry is a key agricultural industry for Australia. The trade is important for Australian farmers generally and more particularly for certain sectors, such as the northern Australia beef industry, and the government is absolutely committed to ensuring its ongoing viability.

Livestock exports are a small but vital part of our overall meat trade.  Australia processes significant volumes of meat onshore for export and the government is always seeking new markets for boxed meat, however, for some foreign markets, live exports remain the preferred or most practical solution and in some parts of Australia processing facilities are not commercially viable.

While many markets are now demanding more boxed or carcass meat as standards of living improve and access to refrigeration increases, there are still some countries that retain their preference for live animals. Australia’s livestock export industry is a key player in meeting this market demand.

A move to transition from livestock exports to onshore processing is a commercial decision for processors and the livestock industry more broadly. In the absence of a viable processing industry in the north and in the face of continuing strong demand for Australian livestock, a ban on live exports would have serious economic and social implications for farmers in northern and western Australia and the communities that rely on the trade.

Contrary to assertions by some, banning the live export trade does not increase demand for Australian boxed meat; rather, such a ban only forces our trading partners to source livestock from other nations with no animal welfare standards whilst also threatening thousands of Australian jobs in the process.        

The live export industry provides more than 10,000 jobs across rural and regional Australia, and underpins returns back to the farm gate, domestic cattle and sheep prices and the sustainability of regional communities.

Australia has high animal welfare and production standards which are unparalleled by any other country. Very unusually amongst livestock exporting nations, Australia seeks to ensure international animal welfare standards are met throughout the entire supply chain.

The introduction of the Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System (ESCAS) has resulted in many overseas facilities improving their animal handling practices and upgrading their facilities. This regulatory approach has also resulted in improved animal welfare outcomes well beyond Australian sourced livestock. The Department of Agriculture is the regulator for the livestock export trade and investigates all complaints alleging breaches of the ESCAS. Information on investigations and their outcomes is published on the department’s website here.

The regulatory framework for livestock exports is designed to minimise risk and provides a mechanism to deal with issues when they occur. It also provides stability for the industry, and the families and communities that depend on the trade.

Ensuring the health and welfare of Australian animals that are exported continues to be a key issue for the Australian Government, and in line with the expectations of the Australian community we remain committed to ensuring that animal welfare outcomes are not compromised.

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