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4. Barriers to investment
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The Australian Government imposes a series of restrictions and conducts detailed examinations on investment proposals in certain sensitive sectors, mainly including residential real estate, urban land, civil aviation, airports, shipping, telecommunications, banking, media, tourism. The dominant criterion of foreign investment examination is "Australian National Interests". But it's considered that the "Australian National Interests" criterion is enabling excessive discretionary power, and certain examination and approval procedures lack transparency, which has impeded the access of foreign capital into Australia.

4.1 Media services

Australia has set up a ceiling for foreign ownership in media services:

a. Broadcasting services: Proposals for a foreign person to acquire an interest in an existing broadcasting service or to establish a new broadcasting service are subject to case-by-case examination. A foreign person must not have company interests in a license that exceed 15 percent or 20 percent in aggregate held by two or more foreign persons.

The number of foreign directors shall be no more than 20 percent of the total number of directors; foreign investors are not allowed to exercise control of the commercial television broadcasting license. A foreign person is not allowed to have company interests of more than 20 percent in a subscription television broadcasting license, and the aggregate interests held by foreign persons must not exceed 35 percent.

b. Newspaper: All proposals by foreign investors to acquire an interest of 5 percent or more in an existing newspaper or to establish a new newspaper in Australia are subject to case-by-case examination. The maximum permitted aggregate foreign interest (non-portfolio) investment/involvement in national and metropolitan newspapers is 30 percent with any single foreign shareholder limited to a maximum interest of 25 percent. Aggregate foreign interest direct involvement in provincial and suburban newspapers is limited to less than 50 percent for non-portfolio shareholdings.

4.2 Telecommunications

The Australian Government holds 51.8 percent of the shares of Telstra Corporation Ltd (Telstra) with the remainder of the equity in the partially privatized company held by institutional and individual investors. Aggregate foreign ownership of Telstra is restricted to 35 percent of the privatized equity and individual foreign investors are only allowed to acquire a holding of no more than 5 percent of the privatized equity.

4.3 Airports

A case-by-case examination must be conducted on foreign proposals for acquisitions of airports in Australia. Foreign ownership is limited to 49 percent and a 5 percent limit is applied to foreign airline ownership and cross ownership between Sydney airport (together with Sydney West) and Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth airports.

4.4 Shipping

For a ship to be registered in Australia, it must be majority Australian-owned, unless the ship is designated as chartered by an Australian operator.

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