Foreigners bought or leased another million hectares of the NT last year.
Overseas interests control 52.6 million hectares of farm land nationally.
But while foreign ownership is pegged at just over 13 per cent nationally – in the NT that control is almost 27 per cent.
There is more foreign ownership of agricultural land in the NT than anywhere else, and that control is growing.
Foreign ownership of Australian agricultural land rose more than two million hectares in the past year, according to a report just released by the Federal Government.
Total Australian farm land is estimated to be 394 million hectares.
The biggest land buy up was in the NT, and Katherine where many of the big pastoral stations have overseas owners, land ownership is transferring overseas faster than anywhere else.
Only a handful of stations changed hands but huge areas of leased land were involved.
Foreign control, almost always in the form of leases, rose almost seven per cent in the NT over the past year with another 951,000 hectares changing hands.
WA also had a rise of 6.9 per cent (890,000ha) while at the other end of the scale, Queensland had the lowest increase of 0.06 per cent (10,000ha).
UK interests are still the biggest investors in Australia’s agricultural land, holding approximately 2.6 per cent.
Chinese investors hold approximately 2.3 per cent and US investors hold around 0.7 per cent of total agricultural land.
There are more overseas owners of agricultural land in the NT than anywhere else, more than a quarter (14.6 million hectares) of available land (54.6 million hectares) is controlled overseas.
Most of the land controlled overseas in the NT is used to run cattle.
And lots more of this land could change hands again this year.
Several big NT stations are already up for sale.
For instance, Tanumbirini Station, is currently being offerred for sale by the Thames Pastoral Company, which is itself owned by a UK investment fund.
The station covers over 5000 square kilometres east of Daly Waters and was bought by Thames Pastoral for about $33 million in 2012 from pastoralist Sterling Buntine.
Forrest Hill Station, covering 54,000 hectares south-east of Katherine, was acquired by Thames in 2013 for $6.4 million including stock.
Interestingly, one of the biggest new owners of Australian farm land (other than China) is the island nation of the Bahamas which lifted its control from virtually nothing to 2,201,000 hectares in the past year.
The Bahamas are an internationally famous tax haven.
The Government is also preparing the first register of foreign ownership of water access rights.
The Agricultural Land Register as at 30 June 2018 is available on the Foreign Investment Review Board website.
Gina Rinehart remains the biggest land owner in the NT and has bought a succession of stations in recent years.
Her portfolio of stations in the NT includes Riveren, Inverway, Willeroo, Aroona plus the S. Kidman and Company’s properties like Brunchilly and Helen Springs.
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