It is the closing date for comments by the public on Australia's new National Foreign Ownership Register for agricultural land, which will provide a clear public record of farmland owned by foreigners. The Ministry of Agriculture has been asking for views on the scope and definition of foreign ownership in the Register, legal compliance issues, access to Register data, and overlaps with existing regulations. Interested stakeholders are able to share their views on a draft policy paper, to help design the Register and how it will operate.About 6 percent of Australia's total land area is believed to be foreign owned. According to a report by the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES), this includes about 44 million hectares of farmland wholly or partly owned by foreign entities. Since the 1980s, foreign land ownership has been increasing very fast. The Government regards foreign ownership positively, but critics worry that foreign investors will compromise national independence and drive away local business.