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Parliamentary Questions

Question Without Notice No. 1021 asked in the Legislative Council on 30 October 2018 by Hon Charles Smith

Parliament: 40 Session: 1

Answered on 30 October 2018

CHEUNG KONG INFRASTRUCTURE HOLDINGS — APA GROUP — TAKEOVER BID

1021. Hon CHARLES SMITH to the minister representing the Treasurer:

I refer to the reported $13 billion takeover bid by Chinese Cheung Kong Infrastructure Holdings Ltd of Australian-owned energy infrastructure company APA Group, which currently operates and maintains around 3 500 kilometres of gas transmission pipelines in Western Australia.

(1) Does the state government recognise that Chinese companies differ from other foreign interests in that they are either owned by or subject to the political control of the Chinese central government?

(2) Does the state government acknowledge that the takeover of APA by CKI would further expose WA to threats of foreign espionage, sabotage and coercion?

(3) If yes to (2), has the state government raised such concerns with the commonwealth government or the Foreign Investment Review Board?

(4) Does the state government have any policy at all to encourage the retention of critical infrastructure in local hands and limit further asset predation by interests linked to Beijing?

Hon STEPHEN DAWSON replied:

I thank the honourable member for some notice of the question.

(1) The proposal by Chinese Cheung Kong Infrastructure Holdings Ltd was subject to a thorough review by the commonwealth Foreign Investment Review Board, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission and the Department of Home Affairs' Critical Infrastructure Centre. The state government is confident this review process provides sufficient assessment of risk of an investment proposal regardless of the country of origin.

(2) No. The takeover proposal by CKI includes a court-enforceable undertaking that it would divest APA's gas pipeline assets in Western Australia—namely, the Parmelia gas pipeline, the goldfields gas pipeline, the Kalgoorlie to Kambalda pipeline and the Mondarra gas storage facility. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission provided its approval in September 2018 on this basis.

(3) The state government provided comment across a range of issues through the Department of Jobs, Tourism, Science and Innovation as part of the Foreign Investment Review Board's consultation process. The issue of foreign influence was one of many aspects considered. The final approval of CKI's acquisition of APA is still awaiting the decision of the Foreign Investment Review Board.

(4) There are no obstacles to the retention of critical infrastructure by local companies in Western Australia. Appropriate regulatory mechanisms, such as the commonwealth Security of Critical Infrastructure Act 2018, already exist to ensure the operation of critical infrastructure in Western Australia is not compromised, irrespective of ownership.