Concerns about foreign development of irrigated food bowl land in the Kimberley region will be allayed by a leasehold, federal Nationals leader Warren Truss has said.
The lease to develop 15,200 hectares of agricultural land at Western Australia's Ord River is due to be officially announced next week, but News Limited has reported the lease has gone to Chinese Property conglomerate Shanghai Zhongfu.
State and federal governments spent $510 million building infrastructure to support the second stage expansion of the Ord irrigation scheme for food bowl farming, News Ltd said.
Mr Truss said he was not aware the deal, which includes developing, farming and creating a sugar-mill on site had been given the go-ahead.
"It is my understanding the Western Australia government has not yet come to a decision as to who would be the preferred tenderer," he told journalists in Melbourne on Wednesday.
However, concerns about foreign ownership would be allayed by the deal's leasing arrangement, Mr Truss said.
"The fact that the land is to be leasehold will mitigate some of the concerns that Australians feel about the levels of foreign ownership," he said.
Mr Truss said whoever the preferred tenderer, the deal would provide jobs, investment and community benefits.
"Our argument has always been that foreign investment needs to be subject to a national interest test," he said.
"In this particular instance it's quite clear a number of the proposals offer significant community benefits ... new infrastructure, first stage processing of primary products, the creation of hundreds of new jobs."
It's time to suit up for Spring Racing, but what should you wear, and when?