Foreign Ownership of Australian Water – Don’t forget to register!
In the current “stocktake period” of the legislation (1 July 2017 – 30 November 2017) a foreign person that currently holds or acquires during the stocktake period either a:
- “registrable water entitlement” or
- “contractual water right” whose term is likely to exceed 5 years as at 30 November 2017,
must register that interest on or before 30 November 2017, or 30 days after acquiring the interest, whichever is the later.
A “registrable water entitlement” includes broadly an irrigation right or a right to take or hold water from a water resource in Australia. Certain water rights such as stock and domestic rights, riparian rights (ie riverbank rights) and annual water allocations are excluded from the regime.
A “contractual water right” essentially means the contractual right of a person to another person’s “registrable water entitlement” or water allocation.
From 1 December 2017 when the stocktake period ends, foreign persons will have a duty to notify when certain events happen in relation to their water right (ie they acquire or dispose of a right, become a foreign person or stop being a foreign person). Generally, foreign persons will have until the end of 30 days after the end of the financial year in which the relevant event occurs to notify the ATO.