Don’t use fears of Chinese interference just to sell property: Australian PM

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese says taxpayers cannot buy all Pacific land subject to Chinese interference, encouraging property promoters to capitalize on geopolitical tensions in the region I warned you about it.

The prime minister’s reaction was for retired Australian businessman Ian Gorey Smith to appear on Nine Entertainment’s Current Affairs program to sell 21 atolls he owns that are part of the disputed islands. After stating that he was enthusiastic about

The region is part of Papua New Guinea, just north of Australia, and lies about 944 kilometers from the northern city of Cairns.

Gowrie-Smith is concerned about Beijing’s interests in the region and is willing to accept a low offer of about $36 million to keep it out of China’s hands for security reasons. He said he had yet to hear back from Foreign Minister Penny Wong. who he tried to contact in June.

“I’ve never heard a boo like a ticket. Nothing. I know it went through all official levels with the Australian High Commissioner in Papua New Guinea, so I know it got through to her.” said Gowrie-Smith. current affairs at the beginning of the week.

The 74-year-old said he would reluctantly sell it to an interested Chinese buyer if he didn’t hear back.

Do not conduct real estate transactions through the media: PM

In response, Prime Minister Albanese said there are more than 500 islands in the region.

“There is a lot of property in the Pacific. Australian taxpayers are not in a position to buy it all,” he told 2GB Radio on August 24.

Epoch Times photo
Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese watches during questioning time at the Houses of Parliament in Canberra, Australia, 28 July 2022. (Martin Ollman/Getty Images)

“Penny Wong’s office was unable to locate the email it received. The department has now received it and they are looking at it,” he added.

“Think about the impact if the asset seller came through the media and said, ‘We want Australia to buy this, otherwise it means we sell to China’ and where does that end? Please think of

Albanese said the final decision rested with the Papua New Guinean government and said Foreign Minister Wong would visit next week.

“This is a matter for the Papua New Guinea government. It is a sovereign territory of Papua New Guinea, not Australian territory.”

Concerns of cunning businessmen capitalizing on geopolitical concerns around Beijing have previously aired, notably in the sale of Digicel Pacific by Irish billionaire Dennis O’Brien.

The issue puts democratic governments in a tough spot as they have to compete with the Chinese Communist Party, which takes little accountability for how it spends government money and operates state-owned enterprises.

Digicel Pacific will go on sale in mid-2021 and is the largest mobile service provider in the South Pacific, specifically Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Nauru, Samoa, Tonga and Vanuatu.

The acquisition of a telecommunications company by a Chinese-backed company raised legitimate privacy and data security concerns, but it was hardly worthwhile for an Australian company to enter the region.

Ultimately, the Australian government financed Telstra, the country’s largest telephone company, to buy Digicel for $1.6 billion (the government loaned Telstra $1.33 billion through Export Finance Australia).

Daniel Y. Teng


Daniel Y. Teng is based in Sydney. His focus is on national politics such as federal politics, the COVID-19 response and Australia-China relations. Any tips? Please contact [email protected]