Title: A strategic analysis of the Australian foreign investment regime and the prospect of reform

Authors: Rebecca Mendelsohn; Allan Fels

Addresses: Crawford School of Public Policy, Australian National University, JG Crawford Building #132, 132 Lennox Crossing, Acton ACT 2601, Australia ' Melbourne Law School, The University of Melbourne, 185 Pelham St, Carlton VIC 3053, Australia

Abstract: Australia's foreign investment regime arguably has four primary objectives. Its purpose is to: facilitate the flow of inbound foreign investment; screen investment for its potential to damage the Australian national interest; reassure the Australian people that foreign investment is consistent with the national interest; educate foreign investors about Australian laws, regulations, and community standards. This paper uses a strategic framework developed by Moore (1995) at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government to assess whether Australia's foreign investment regime is delivering on its four main objectives. We ask if the regime could offer greater public value to the Australian people were changes to be made to its structure and operation. We conclude that the foreign investment regime is very far from dysfunctional. We argue, however, that more public value may accrue from bringing the regime into line with accepted principles of good governance. We also propose that additional value may be generated by creating a specialist body to educate foreign investors and provide them with ongoing assistance in adjusting to the Australian environment. We suggest that these responsibilities could, in the alternative, be readily assigned to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade consistent with its existing mandate.

Keywords: foreign investment; FIRB; law; regulation; good governance; public value; reform; public policy.

DOI: 10.1504/IJPP.2017.086059

International Journal of Public Policy, 2017 Vol.13 No.3/4/5, pp.244 - 276

Received: 19 Aug 2015
Accepted: 31 Mar 2016

Published online: 24 Jul 2017 *

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