Existing laws in Australia prohibit foreigners buying property without Government approval. all foreigners require prior approval to purchase residential real estate, and only temporary residents are permitted to acquire existing properties.
Brian Wilson, the chairman of the Foreign Investment Review Board, has stated ” It’s an existing property, you have to be either a resident or a citizen or a temporary resident. You Can’t be a foreign investor”.
In a forced divestment of a property, the owners have 90 days to sell the property or face being referred to the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions. According to the Financial Review, a parliamentary inquiry recently found there had not been a single prosecution of a foreign investor since 2006 and no divestment orders since 2007. This, in my opinion, makes Mr. Joe Hockey and the Government seem very week. when they spruik comments, as Joe did this week, such as promising new fees and penalties to enforce existing laws. This seems empty rhetoric predicated on a spur of the moment whim, given that the laws have not been enforced, so what is the point of adding more fees to failing laws?
This rhetoric of course has not been enacted upon according to the Financial Review. The concern I have is whether foreign investors are purchasing through a friend or relative residing in Australia. This could be a massive loophole.
How interesting it is that Mr Wilson stated “FIRB does have limited resources and to actually chase down a property in terms of its ultimate owners is quite resource intense”. we all have jobs that can be intensive but we don’t make excuses, we just get on with it, so I wonder has the Government failed to perform its duty by not issuing any divestment orders since 2007? Has there not been one foreigner guilty of breaking the law?
Let’s see how the case goes with the former house of Julia Ross in Point Piper. Let’s see if the FIRB are a toothless tiger, or if they have the resolve and commitment to Australian law.