One Nation leader Pauline Hanson says she is shocked that a key national infrastructure asset — the Dampier to Bunbury gas pipeline in Western Australia — could soon fall into foreign hands through a $7.3 billion takeover bid by Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-shing.
Campaigning for her resurgent nationalist party in Western Australia ahead of the March 11 state election, Senator Hanson said she would ramp up her opposition to foreign investment, particularly from Chinese interests, in key national assets.
She said she was also opposed to the Barnett government’s decision to allow Chinese investment in the Ord River agricultural scheme, the “biggest water resource in the state”, in the Kimberley,
“I’ve said this for the past 20 years: your essential services, your gas, your water, electricity, telecommunications, should not be in the hands of any foreign ownership,” she told The Australian.
Mr Li’s Hong Kong-based company CKI has launched a takeover bid for Australian energy utility DUET Group, which owns the Dampier to Bunbury pipeline and other assets including stakes in electricity networks in Victoria and South Australia.
Last week, DUET recommended shareholders back the bid, meaning the federal government is likely to have the final say on whether it proceeds.
CKI suffered a setback last year when Scott Morrison rejected its $10bn bid for a controlling stake in NSW energy network Ausgrid, citing security concerns. Although the company is privately owned, the Turnbull government had concerns about Mr Li’s close links to senior officials in Beijing.
Senator Hanson claimed Mr Morrison was set to approve the CKI bid for Ausgrid before she raised concerns about it last year.
“We’ve got the Chinese government wanting to buy them (infrastructure assets) up,” she said.
“It should not be allowed — it is a national security issue. They buy because then they will have control over the people and I think it’s totally wrong.”
Senator Hanson said voters were sick of foreign investment, claiming it was driving up the cost of living. “They’re buying (assets) to drive up profits at the expense of the people,” she said. “People are struggling now because the cost of living is getting out of control.”