Shock, horror and disappointment have gripped the Asian business community after One Nation Party’s Pauline Hanson’s successful campaign at the federal election.
Ms Hanson’s success in winning a Senate seat has caused many Asian businesses to question the stability of the political environment in Australia. They said the uncertainty caused by a government in limbo could put off foreign investments.
Ms Hanson was widely unpopular in Asia during her political stint 20 years ago when she said Australia was at risk of being “swamped by Asians”, a claim she repeated on Monday.
“If Ms Hanson insists on working against a multicultural Australia, or adhere to the rejection of a race or a religion, yes, Australia’s development and ability to attract investment could be a problem,” developer B1 Group chairman and NSW Multicultural champion Anne Bi said.
B1 Group builds apartments in Sydney and partners with the powerful Chinese developer Shimao.
“Not recognising Australia’s diversity is against Australia’s national interest.”
After Ms Hanson’s victory, two of the Australia China Entrepreneurs Club’s high net worth members asked their chairman Richard Yuan’:
“Should we still invest in Australia?”
Mr Yuan runs a club of 120 wealthy Chinese investors – each with net worth of $10 million on average – who invests in property, agriculture and media businesses in Australia.
“When people heard about Pauline Hanson getting elected, they got nervous,” he said.
“It’s very bad for foreign investment. Her political ideology is anti-Asian, anti-multiculturalism to cause a stirring against any coloured people.”
“She advocates the white Australian policy. Everybody talked about it when they were thinking about migration and without migration and integration, it’s bad for business, and housing.”
Asian countries make up three of the top five foreign investors in Australia, based on the Foreign Investment Review Board’s 2015 data. China topped the list with $46 billion in approved investments, followed by Singapore and Japan.
Any dent to Chinese investor sentiment could hurt Australia’s pocket, Chinese investment group PIA managing director Justin Wang said.
“Pauline Hanson’s One Nation party ‘policies’ are studiously opposed to foreign ownership, investment and immigration,” he said.
Developer Yuhu Group and the UTS Australia-China Relation Institute chairman Huang Xiangmo weighed in on the debate from China.
“Australia’s Asian community, including the Chinese community, has made an overwhelmingly positive contribution to this country and it would be unfortunate to see anyone seek to denigrate that contribution with inflammatory language,” he said.
Ms Hanson aside, property company VIG Group which has invested more than $400 million in assets in Australia, has put on hold all deal search and apartment sales due to uncertainty.
“To make an investment, or plan for it, we need to have political and economic certainty,” VIG’s Chinese-born managing director Michael Guo said.
“[The election] has amplified my point that there was and is a lack of political direction in Australia.”