The Australian Treasurer Scott Morrison has blocked the sale of the country's biggest cattle operation to foreign investors, saying the sale would not be in the national interest.
The business up for sale, S. Kidman and Co. Limited, is Australia's largest private land owner and holds approximately 1.3 per cent of Australia's total land area, and 2.5 per cent of Australia's agricultural land.
It has 10 cattle stations, including properties across regional South Australia, Western Australia, the Northern Territory and Queensland covering 101,411 square kilometres and managing a long-term average herd of 185,000 cattle.
A statement from Mr Morrison said that whilst the size and significance of the total Kidman portfolio was a consideration in blocking the sale, the fact that one of the cattle stations is partly inside a prohibited area was also a major factor.
Fifty per cent of the Anna Creek cattle station is located in the Woomera Prohibited Area (WPA) in South Australia.
Mr Morrison said that the presence of a weapons testing range inside the WPA meant that it would be contrary to Australia's national interest for a foreign person to acquire S. Kidman and Co. "in its current form."
Local reports suggest that two Chinese investment companies were in a bidding battle over the company. Chinese interest in foreign land investment has been growing with China's appetite for food and increased volume of meat in diets.
However, Mr Morrison added: "We will continue to welcome and support foreign investment that is not contrary to our national interest."