Australia risks another foreign investment feud with China, as Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne attempts to thaw diplomatic tensions during a meeting in Beijing.
Senator Payne is expected to face questions on Thursday about the blocking of another major Chinese investment in Australia.
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has indicated he will likely reject a $13 billion takeover of Australia’s largest gas pipeline business APA Group by a Hong Kong-based company.
His preliminary decision comes just months after the government quashed Chinese telco Huawei’s plans to build part of Australia’s 5G network.
Mr Frydenberg said the proposed acquisition by CK Group would have established a dominant foreign player in Australia’s most significant gas transmission business, and therefore was not in the national interest.
He is expected to make a final decision within weeks.
Centre Alliance Senator Rex Patrick is a vocal opponent of the takeover bid, fearing it could give China too much control over vital energy assets.
‘This is a critical energy asset for Australia and we need to be very careful when we place those sorts of assets into foreign hands,’ he told ABC radio on Thursday.
The APA Group is the largest gas transmission system owner in Australia, owning 15,000km of pipelines representing 56 per cent of Australia’s gas pipeline transmission system.
Following Mr Frydenberg’s preliminary decision, CK Group moved to defend its investment record in Australia.
The foreign consortium said the treasurer’s preliminary decision did not constitute ‘an adverse reflection’ of its existing Australian operations.