Australian Politician Warns of Mass Foreign Buy-Up Amid Weak Dollar

'Australians want rapid safeguards put in place'
March 27, 2020 Updated: March 27, 2020

An Australian senator is warning that Australia must guard itself against foreign buyers amid an economic recession triggered by the CCP virus pandemic.

The Epoch Times refers to the novel coronavirus, which causes the disease COVID-19, as the CCP virus because the Chinese Communist Party’s coverup and mismanagement allowed the virus to spread throughout China before it was transmitted worldwide.

Senator Pauline Hanson, who leads the nationalist One Nation Party, wrote a letter to Prime Minister Scott Morrison warning against “international vultures” and asked that he immediately suspend any sale approvals by the country’s foreign investment regulator, the Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB).

“Given unemployment numbers are surging, our stocks have been knee-capped, housing prices are set to fall, and our dollar is weakened, I will not allow foreign nations to fight over the carcass of Australia’s misfortune,” Hanson wrote.

The senator said she had alerted parliament “on numerous occasions the unforgivable volume of FIRB approvals.”

In a statement accompanying the letter, the Queensland senator said that “Australians want rapid safeguards put in place to ensure China and other opportunistic countries are prevented from buying up housing stock, prime agricultural land, businesses, and corporations affected by this Chinese virus.”

“I won’t tolerate China or any other country coming in here and buying Australia up for a song, leaving our people without a say,” she also said.

“What’s happening right now in this country and right across the globe should be a wakeup call to all politicians, stop allowing the sell-off of our industries and manufacturing and start investing in ourselves.

“Water, manufacturing, industry, agriculture, and jobs for Australians,” she said.

Hanson noted how FIRB Chair David Irvine in 2018 estimated that more than A$40 billion in critical infrastructure transactions had been approved in just three years.

“Between 2007/08 and 2017/18, the Foreign Investment Review Board reviewed almost 12,000 applications and rejected just five,” she said.

“How can the FIRB, which has one permanent employee and a handful of part-time members, give proper consideration to the sale of so many Australian assets?” she asked. “It can’t and therefore they aren’t looking out for the best interest of all Australians and need to be stopped.”

The senator told 2GB host Alan Jones that she fears that “people are going to hurt and a lot of businesses are going to go under.”

Irvine in 2018 said that the FIRB approved more than 1,100 business-related approvals in the 2016-17 financial year.

“The two largest source countries for approved investment in the 2016-17 financial year were China and the United States,” he said at the time.

“We continue to see strong interest from Chinese investors despite the impact of factors such as tightening of capital controls by Chinese authorities,” Irvine added. “In recent years, there has been significant foreign investor interest in Australian critical infrastructure assets, with activity driven by state government privatizations, particularly in ports and electricity infrastructure.”

The Sydney Morning Herald reported on Thursday that there was growing concern within the Australian government regarding how to handle foreign takeovers of Australian businesses, as more companies are expected to permanently shut down in the coming months due to the economic impact of the CCP virus pandemic.

According to the paper, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has “privately expressed concern about Australian assets ending up in the hands of opportunistic foreign interests,” and Liberal Member of Parliament Andrew Hastie “also raised the issue directly with the FIRB.”

SMH also noted that Liberal MPs are calling for a revisit of the criteria for FIRB approval of foreign acquisitions, with an added emphasis on companies with links to foreign governments.

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