Chinese investment important for Australian property: Baillieu

Victorian Premier Ted Baillieu has moved to allay fears about the impact of increasing Chinese investment in Australia as he embarked on a trip of China last week.

He says the Foreign Investment Review Board is protecting “strategic interests”.

“Obviously the investment review board is in charge of these issues. Suffice to say work is being done so that we can keep an eye on our strategic interests, and I think that is a good thing,” Bailleu says.

Approved Chinese investments in Australia have totalled an estimated $60 billion since late 2007 including the purchase of farms, wineries and office towers.

This year, Chinese investment firms have continued buying up both rural properties and offices.

Recent transactions include Chinese conglomerate HNA Group purchasing the 1 York Street office tower in the Sydney CBD for $117 million from Colonial First State, Chinese investors buying the Capercallie vineyard in the NSW Hunter Valley for around $2 million, and another Chinese group buying Burraga Island, a 121-hectare Shoalhaven River island for about $2.5 million.

In August Baillieu unveiled a strategy of Victoria increasing the promotion of its agricultural, manufacturing and financial services in China.

Bailleu says Chinese investment should be welcomed as it will help farmers sell their products in the second biggest and fastest growing economy in the world.

"I don't think we should be shy in any way ... about investment in Victoria," he says.

In a speech at the Australia-China Business Week forum in August, former premier of Victoria John Brumby said China's investment in Australia must be viewed as an opportunity, not a threat.

“The Australia-China Business Council has shown that trade with China generated the equivalent of $10,000 per Australian household in the past year alone. So this is, by any measure, an important relationship,” Brumby said.

Larry Schlesinger

Larry Schlesinger

Larry Schlesinger was a property writer at Property Observer

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